On Oct. 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving 58 dead and over 500 injured. While the tragedy of the situation has impacted those who have heard and read about it, a common thought running through people’s minds might be, “What would I do if it happened to me?”
While the chances of being in an active shooter situation are slim, it’s important to be prepared. If someone is looking for step-by-step instructions on what to do, they will not find any.
“If you go putting policies out to cover an active shooter situation it just causes confusion because those policies don’t always match the situation,” said Chief of Scottdale Police, Barry Pritts.
Instead of a specified procedure, the following are tips suggested by Chief Pritts and Patrolman Michael Whipkey.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Know where your exits are and where you can take cover if need be. The best thing to do is come up with a plan if anything were to happen, especially in places that attract shooters. These places include gun free zones, schools, enclosed areas, and anywhere large crowds are known to gather, such as concerts and movie theatres.
- Don’t panic. A person’s first response to stress, confusion, and danger may be to panic. This will just add to the confusion and general chaos, making it harder to make rational decisions that will help you and others.
As Chief Pritts said “If you panic you’re dead.”
- Find shelter. It may not always be obvious where shooter or shooters are at, so if you cannot get to an exit, take cover to prevent injuries.
Officer Whipkey, in regards to Los Vegas, said, “I’m sure nobody understood exactly where the fire was coming from. I mean, how could you? You’re enjoying yourself at a concert and bullets come spraying down from God knows where.”
- Don’t gawk. If you’re a bystander, the worst thing is to gather around the attack. It creates congestions and confusion, adding to the present problems.
- Listen to law enforcement. The aim of law enforcement in these circumstances is safety. Any instructions they give are to keep civilians and officers safe.
Being prepared does help but a sad truth is that these attacks will continue to happen. While the attacks can be devastating, the responses seen afterwards often restore faith in humanity.
“Sometimes it takes an extremely evil act to see the good in people,” said Officer Whipkey. “You see one evil act and you see the outpouring of love and support for the victims and victims’ families.”