Preparing for "active shooter" incidents

Have an action plan


JACKSONVILLE,Fla. – Recognizing that Americans are at increasing risk from active shooter incidents, survival medical expert and author Joseph Alton, M.D. believes that every citizen should formulate a standing plan of action for trips to crowded public areas. He also believes that, just as we have fire extinguishers and fire drills, every school, business, and public building should have readily available medical kits with training provided for employees, students, and the general public.

Dr. Alton said: "Just as you should remember 'stop, drop, roll' if you're on fire, you should remember 'run, hide, fight' if you're under fire by a gunman."

The average person tends to follow the crowd or become paralyzed with fear in active shooter settings, making them easy targets for an assassin. Practicing what Dr. Alton calls "situational awareness" and having a plan of action will give the average citizen the best chance of surviving a mass casualty event.

"Whenever you're at the mall or other public place, look for the nearest exits as you walk along. Keep an eye out for unusual behavior and steer clear of any suspicious characters. If you hear anything that sounds like gunfire, run in the opposite direction to an exit you previously marked mentally; call 911 once you reach a safe location."

"If running isn't an option, hide in a room with a door that can be locked. Push heavy furniture against the door, turn off the lights, and silence your cell phone. Stay quiet behind an additional barrier like a table. You'll become harder to find and reach; the shooter will probably look for easier targets."

"Finally. If neither running nor hiding is possible, you might have to fight. A target that's resisting is harder to kill that one that is cowering under a chair. If you commit to fighting, charge the gunman from the side or rear, throwing objects, and disrupting his 'flow'. When you reach him, grab for his weapon so as to control where it's pointed. If you can get others to fight as well, do it in a coordinated fashion from different directions. The attacker is probably not a marksman or James Bond, and your chances of survival greatly increase."

Neither the government nor Dr. Alton recommends attempting to render care to the wounded until the threat has been abolished.  Despite this, the availability of medical kits with tourniquets and other supplies, in conjunction with proper training, can increase survival rates in the immediate aftermath of active shooter incidents.

Dr. Alton's focus is on disaster medical preparedness, and he has written "The Survival Medicine Handbook" to help the average person deal with injuries and illness in situations when medical help is not on the way. His mission is to put a medically prepared person in every family. 

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