Run, hide, fight

Guest post courtesy of Health & Vitality blogger Tracy James

The challenging endeavor of helping employees and students prepare for an ambiguous, potentially deadly active shooter situation is underway at Indiana University.

Just the prospect of a shooting can be alarming. And no one single response to a shooting can be recommended and practiced because the possible scenarios — where and how it happens — are endless.

So, the concept of “Run, hide, fight,” is gaining buzz as a way for people to mentally prepare for the horrible. I hope everyone watches the short video, which discusses “Run, hide, fight” in detail. The article “Responding to an Active Shooter,” found on the Protect IU website, discusses the concept, too.

“Every bit of information empowers people,” said Debbi Fletcher, director of emergency management and continuity at Indiana University Bloomington. “Even if it’s scary, you’re better off. By mentally working through scenarios, by thinking about such things as exit locations or how to barricade doors, we can improve how we respond during a crisis.”

The active shooter article provides useful tips and insight into what to expect during such a crisis. Here are just a few:

  • If a safe path is available, run. Always try to escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying.
  • Hide if you can’t get out safely. When hiding, turn out lights, lock doors and silence mobile devices.
  • As a last resort, fight. Act with aggression, use improvised weapons and commit to disarming and taking down the shooter.

Fletcher said that the way people respond during an active shooter scenario ultimately is a personal decision, such as whether they choose to run or if they try to fight. People who are considered authority figures, however, such as instructors, will be looked to by the majority of students or people around them to take the lead during a crisis.

A free online course, “Active Shooter, What Can You Do,” is available through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The self-paced course is geared toward a general audience and takes about 45 minutes to complete. Read more about the course and how to access it from this Protect IU blog post. Fletcher said additional safety training should be available this fall for IU Bloomington faculty and other employees.

A full-scale active shooter exercise — including costumed volunteers portraying victims — was conducted at IUPUI last year. A full-scale exercise is planned for IU Bloomington this fall. A precursor to the IU Bloomington drill, a table-top exercise took place last month involving about 80 employees comprising public safety, UITS, IU Communications and top administrators, among others.

The idea of “Run, hide, fight,” incidentally, is not just a campus-oriented concept. Fletcher said the advice could be used during active shooter situations in the community, such as in movie theaters and grocery stores.

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