Surviving an Active Shooter Incident Why a ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach Lacks Effectiveness

A common theme developed by the government and security companies to surviving an active shooter incident has been to create an easily articulated recommendation and strategy. “Run, Hide, Fight” which is the U.S. government’s “guidance” to surviving an active shooter incident is the first one that comes to mind. Search the web, and you’ll see numerous entities either training the Run-Hide-Fight methodology or creating their own acronyms that are highly marketable and resonate with people. But, are they effective?

While any law enforcement or security professional would argue that doing something is better than nothing, the fact is the “one size fits all” methodology cannot apply to every situation. For example, a primary tenant of some active shooter training is to “Lockdown.” While going on lockdown is an excellent option when inside a facility, it is not applicable when at an outside venue such as an outdoor concert or high school football game.

Training individuals to react accordingly and explaining the options to them is of great value and a practice that Fidelis Global Group (Fidelis) espouses. Fidelis has taught several active shooter workshops where the Run-Hide-Fight methodology was discussed. Someone once asked, “How do I run? Do I zig-zag? What does it mean to hide? Can I hide behind a desk?” While these questions are valid, it reveals a common concern; people don’t know how to execute these methodologies. If they cannot execute them effectively, what difference does a slick name matter?

Our mission is to be thorough in our explanations, diligent in our preparedness, and reflect determination in our training.

Fidelis’ acronym, EOD, is effective and is all-encompassing. Most importantly, EOD prepares people by teaching the HOW behind the WHAT to do.

Evade

Evading can mean running the opposite direction from the sound of gunfire, pausing behind cover then running, bounding from cover to cover until reaching a safe zone.

Obstruct

You want to obstruct a shooters capability to engage you. That could mean hiding, barricading, locking down or a little bit of all of them. Again, we teach HOW; how to efficiently barricade, how to create levels of security, how to find the best spot inside a room to increase the chances of survival IF an active shooter were able to get the weapon through the barricade.

Defend

And lastly, Defend – fight hard, fight aggressively, fight smart with a positive mental attitude. Never will we espouse to lay there and give up. Defending is a key option. We teach how to approach a shooter, how to use defensive weapons and best options for a takedown.

Maybe even more important, however, is that we teach while one option may be good for one person, it may not be for another, even if they are in the same location.

For example, if an active shooter walks in a room the closest person to the shooter’s best option may NOT be to evade, it may NOT be to obstruct, it may, in fact, be to defend, to fight at all costs. Someone in the middle of the room that has a far distance to run to safety may choose to pause behind cover and obstruct the shooters ability to target them. While someone in the back of the room may have the most desirable option, to evade, because they are closest to the exit.

Giving options, explaining those options, then training and drilling the options to create muscle memory are key to effective implementation and ultimately survival. We need to build confidence in our learners, empower them, develop a positive mental attitude, and ensure they commit to their actions. No longer can we just give individuals a pamphlet to read with a fancy acronym. We must be thorough in our explanations, diligent in our preparedness, and determined in our training.

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