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SPECIAL REPORT: What to do in an Active Shooter Situation

Since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, mass shootings in public places have gripped the nation. More recently, a gunman outside of a high school prom in Antigo, Wisconsin has reignited concerns about active shooter situations. Would you know what to do if you came face to face with a gunman? If not, local police say it’s time to think about it.

Police are highly trained on how to respond to a threat.  

"Find the suspect effectively; mitigate the situation, so that person can no longer bring harm to you or other people,” said Brian Dorow, the Dean at the Criminal Justice Department at Waukesha County Technical College.

Law enforcement is trained to stop the threat, sometimes with deadly force. But what should the average person, in the office, at school, or in a public place like a movie theater do? Active shooter situations are chaotic and stressful. So, how should you respond in a life or death situation?

"Everyone should be preparing for active shooter situations,” said Dorow. "The simple plan- you run, you fight, you hide."

Recent mass shootings prove, it can happen anywhere. If you find yourself in that situation, first and foremost find an exit. Your first priority should be to run away from the situation.

“Don’t worry about your purse. Don’t worry about your wallet. Don’t worry about your computer. This is a life or death situation, you want to leave the area, so you flee,” said Dorow.

You want to exit away from the shooter. If the chaos, loud screams and sounds of gunfire are coming from the exit, you want to run in the other direction. If your only exit is blocked, Dorow says you hide. Use whatever you can do barricade and lock the door. You should move desks, chairs and heavy furniture in front of the door to keep the threat out.

"Once they encounter resistance, they're going to go to an easier target."

Dorow says a concrete wall is the best shield from bullets.

If there is no place to run or hide, or if you come face to face with a shooter, you fight.

“Throw a punch. Throw whatever you have. Turn over the desk. Grab the chair. Grab a stapler. Take your purse. Take off your belt. Whatever you can, you’re fighting for your life and you don’t want to lose it.”

The suspect could have a weapon jam or malfunction, or law enforcement could arrive, which is why you should never give up.

While television shows and movies make talking things out look simple, Dorow says you should never try to negotiate. He says the rule of thumb is when the first gunshot rings out, there's no negotiating. 

“All the case studies have shown us, statistically speaking, they’ve come to that location to hurt people, to kill people. You don’t rationalize with them because you’re opening yourself up there,” said Dorow. “Run, fight, hide.”

Dorow says everyone should have a plan in place. He says know the emergency exit strategy and the best places to hide at work and school. He says a simple plan will help your chances of survival.

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