A year ago on this day, Edgar Robles, 16, was starting a fire in Jacksonville, Florida, against two 15-years old colleagues with whom he and another two friends have previously had an argument. Although the victims’ lives were not put in danger, school and work shootings are more frequent in U.S. than in any other countries. This makes you subject to a possible life-or-death situation at any given time – and would you know how to react?
The best way to be ready for anything to come is to stay ready – and by that, I mean connected to the surroundings and having your survival lesson learned. Here is what you should do if, one of a sudden, the red alert is triggered:
1. HAVE A QUICK REACTION TIME
You will most probably have a split second to do all of the above and decide what’s best for you – running or hiding. While both have advantages and limits, each suit best a different type of shooting.
If there are few people, and you can draw the attacker’s attention very quickly, it’s better to search for a place to hide from the very first second you realize what will happen. If you start running, the attacker will let the hostilities begin. The downside of hiding is obvious – if you are found, that’s a point of no turning back.
If the shooting takes place in an open space or there are many people around, already moving in a chaotic manner, the best thing you can do is run as far as possible from the danger zone. Keep in mind that a moving target is always harder to reach.
Tip: if your shoes are not fit for running, get rid of them and run barefoot.
2. RUN (PLAN A)
KNOW THE ESCAPE ROUTES
Get yourself prepared by knowing the emergency exits of the rooms in which you spend the most time. Learn where the fire stairs in your building are and identify in advance all the windows that you can use to get out of the building.
Memorize these clues and you will instinctively know where to head when you’ll be needed to. Make sure you already know at least two routes, in case the attackers have blocked one of them.
LEAVE YOUR BELONGINGS BEHIND
You may be tempted to check for your bag and take your phone, wallet or other valuable items with you, but your life is more important than those things altogether. Plus, chances are you will find your things in the same place after it is all finished, since the primary target of school/ work shootings is people, not items.
3. BARRICADE YOURSELF (PLAN B)
If running is not the option you have chosen, then identify a room in which you can hide. It is essential that the door opens on the inside of the room you have chosen so that the barricade you set blocks the access to it.
Turn all your devices silent and also shut down the light in the room. Be as quiet as possible and don’t hide alone. Find at least two other persons and act as a team – some of you will need to lock and barricade the door, another person to call 911 and another group to identify potential weapons (aim for anything that is club-shaped, sharp or heavy).
Try announcing the authorities as fast as you can, because it takes under three minutes for the Police to arrive. The whole shooting scene usually lasts from ten to fifteen minutes, so keeping yourself safe is a matter of how you act, not of time.
LOCK THE ROOM
When it comes to barricading the door, one of the most efficient tools is, without a doubt, a doorstop (especially made of rubber). Clearly, though, it is not enough – the second step consists in placing heavy objects in front of the door. Be it a filling cabinet or a massive desk, your target is to restrict the attacker’s access to the room and delay his actions until those fifteen minutes have passed.
The last group, which is seeking weapons should adapt to the chamber’s specific. If it’s a working room, reach a stapler or scissors. Tall lamps and legs from the chairs or tables can come in handy, too.
Think of any injurious substance or a spray that you can find in the room you are or keep one of these home-made pepper sprays with you all the time.
4. STAY IN THE HIDEOUT EVEN AFTER THE POLICE HAVE ARRIVED
Authorities’ priority is dealing with the attackers, not rescuing other people. Remain in your hideout and follow the given indications, until you are advised that it is safe to leave.
When you get out, keep your hands up and your fingers spread, so that it is evident you are not a threat yourself. Go towards the officials and give them all the information you have on the shooting.
Have you ever witnessed such an experience? How did you and others react? Tell us what you think makes a difference between surviving and failing to survive in a school or workplace shooting!