Tips for Reporting Shots Fired and What to Do in the Event of an Active Shooter
Unfortunately shootings have become a very real threat in every community. Therefore it is necessary to know how to report shots fired and what to do in the event there is an active shooter in your area. These tips could help to save your life or the lives of those in your community.
The first thing to do when shots are fired in your community is to determine how close the shots were to you. What you do next depends on whether or not the shots were fired in your immediate vicinity.
If They Were in the Distance
- Stay/go inside
- Call the non-emergency number for SLMPD (314-231-1212)
- Give them your location and the direction you think the shots came from
- If you see or hear anything else suspicious (such as additional shots fired) call the SLMPD dispatcher back.
- Don’t go back outside until you know it is safe. If you are unsure call back the SLMPD dispatcher and ask if the area was cleared.
If The Shots Were Fired Near You and Your Family
- Ensure that you and your family are safe
- Find a safe place, either in an inside room or your basement.
- Stay away from windows and put as many walls and as much furniture between you and the shooter as possible.
- Next call 9-1-1, a shooting in your area is a serious danger and requires emergency personnel
- Give the dispatcher as much information as you can
- DO NOT leave the call until you are told it is okay to do so.
- Give them your location and the direction the shots came from. Let them know how close you are.
- Let them know if there are other people nearby and how many shooters there are, if you know.
- DO NOT put yourself in danger to get more details
- DO NOT leave your home or place of shelter to look outside.
- DO NOT leave until the dispatcher informs you it is safe to do so. If you must hang up, call the non-emergency number to see if the area is cleared before leaving your place of shelter.
In the Case of an Active Shooter
If the shooter is in your immediate vicinity and you believe he/she is a serious threat to you, your family, or your neighbors then there are certain steps you can take in order to protect yourself and those around you.
Leave the Area or Hide Yourself
- Firstly you must get out of the area with the shooter. Leave everything but yourself and the people around you. No object is worth your life. Help others to escape if possible and keep others from entering the area. Follow any instructions given to you by police officers.
- If the shooter is outside then get inside, if they are in the same building as you then do your best to get outside.
- If you cannot get out of the building then get to a safe place in the building and lock the door.
- If there is no lock then block the door with a heavy object.
- Hide yourself behind furniture and stay low. Most objects will not stop a bullet, but if you hide yourself the shooter may move along to the next room without putting much effort into finding you.
- Cover or close windows and turn out the lights.
- Turn off any electronics and remain calm and quiet.
Contact Law Enforcement
- Once you have left the area the shooter is in and if there are no police there call 9-1-1. Explain the situation to them and give them as much detailed information about the shooter as possible, including: where they are, how many there are, what sort of weapon they have, and what they are wearing. Also let law enforcement know how many victims/hostages there are. If there are police in the area give this information to one of the officers.
- Listen to any commands the officers give you. Officers often don’t know who the shooter is; so don’t give them any reason to be suspicious of you.
- Immediately put up your hands and drop any objects you are carrying. Remain calm and avoid yelling, screaming, pointing, or any other such actions.
- The officers may give commands such as “raise your hands” or “get on the ground,” comply immediately and tell them you are not the shooter.
- Do not stop to ask for help or direction when evacuating, just leave from where the police officers entered.
Taking Action against an Active Shooter
NEVER take action against a shooter unless as a last resort. Always do everything in your power to leave the area and allow law enforcement to handle the situation. However, sometimes it is impossible to safely leave the area, or the shooter may come directly for you. In these cases it is necessary to know how to defend yourself and take action against the shooter.
- If you are forced to take action COMMIT to your actions. DO NOT hesitate to use whatever means necessary to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
- Act as aggressively as possible against the shooter. Improvise weapons or throw items at them in order to disrupt the shooter or incapacitate them.
- Yell, scream, kick, and punch the shooter if necessary. The shooter may not be prepared for someone to fight back and you may be able to take them by surprise.
- Go for “soft spots” that can slow or stop the shooter. Eyes, groin, neck, etc. are good examples of a soft spot.
- If possible work with others to tackle the shooter and hold him or her until help arrives.
Preparing for an Active Shooter
In order to increase the likelihood of survival in the event of an active shooter it is recommended to have a plan of action prepared, and always be aware of your environment and any possible dangers. Take note of the nearest exits in any building you enter.
- Go through these and other safety measures with your family and have a meeting place in case you ever get separated in an emergency.
- If you are a business owner develop a plan of action for you and your employees in the case of an active shooter.
-Dalton Davidson, Safety and Security Intern