What to Do If There’s an Active Shooter

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Annie Schroeder | lschroeder@radford.edu

The subject of school shootings has become unavoidable after 17 people were killed last Wednesday in Parkland, Florida. Since they have become so common and dangerous, it is always better to be prepared than not to be.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, if there is an active shooter situation the steps to take are Run, Hide, and Fight.

Radford University has its own set of protocols to follow, and experts say that following these steps are the ones to take if ever to be an active shooter situation.

  1. Be Informed: It is best to know the proper procedure beforehand to keep yourself safe. There are active shooter training sessions that can be taken locally. If you see something, say something. Even small things like knowing where all the exits are in a building can help. Take time to understand your surroundings before an emergency occurs. Ask yourself, “What if?” questions and develop a plan. According to the University, the following are steps to take to make sure you are prepared.
    1. RU Alerts – This is the primary method for distributing urgent information and can help to save your life. If you are not registered in RU Alerts, you cannot be informed of an emergency and receive instructions for immediate actions to take. Please visit the RU Alert site to sign up and/or verify that you are registered. Remember, that in addition to how you want to receive messages (text/voicemail/email) you can also add someone else’s contact information to receive an emergency notification as well. Register for RU Alerts at https://sso.radford.edu/idp/profile/cas/login?execution=e1s1
    2. LiveSafe App– This unique app is specifically for Radford University and free for students, faculty, and staff. The RU LiveSafe App is a personal safety app that lets students, campus employees, parents and the community communicate quickly and efficiently with RUPD and other campus safety services. With the app, users can directly access police and 911 emergency services, share their location with friends and report non-emergency concerns on campus. This is also another tool used to distribute emergency/urgent information. Please visit and register at https://www.radford.edu/content/police/home/livesafe.html.
      1. Emergency/urgent information is distributed in the following ways:
        1. Outdoor siren and outdoor public address system.
        2. Inside buildings via public address system.
        3. Radford University Relations website: https://www.radford.edu/content/university-relations/home/our-services/media-services/ru-announce.html and social media http://www.radford.edu/content/rss/news.rss.html.
        4. Desktop computer: A pop-up emergency alert message requires acknowledgment before the computer can be used.
        5. Voice over Internet Provider desktop telephones.
  2. Run: Only if possible. According to the Department of Homeland Security, getting away from the shooter/shooters is the number one priority. Leave behind all belongings and help others escape if possible. Warn anyone in the surrounding area of the situation. Have an escape route planned and keep hands visible.
  3. Hide: According to Radford University’s Active Shooter Checklist and the Department of Homeland Security, securing a scene requires the following: lock and barricade doors, turn off the lights, close the blinds, block windows, silence cell phones, stay quiet and out of sight, make sure all occupants are spread out hiding behind desks or filing cabinets, try to communicate with police silently, use text message or social media to tag your location or put a sign in a window and stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
  4. Fight: As an absolute last resort. According to the Department of Homeland Security, commit to your actions and act as aggressively as possible against the shooter. Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc. Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter. Throw items and improvise weapons to distract and disarm the shooter.
  5. Contact Emergency Services: According to the University’s Checklist on what to do if there is an Active Shooter, making sure RUPD knows about the situation is essential, RUPD’s Emergency phone number is 540-831-5500. Make sure only to contact emergency services when it is safe. The policy states: Be aware that the emergency number will likely be overwhelmed. Use signs in windows and keep calling.

Every situation is different; these steps are not universal by any means. Active shooter situations can be a grim and terrible topic to talk about, but now more than ever it is vital to keep yourself and those around safe if these situations ever take place.