The entire country is in shock and mourning at the evil that has been inflicted on our children. SEMSNation sends it’s deepest and most sincere condolences to the victims families and we also send our prayers to our law enforcement and EMS family who did a wonderful job, but must live with these images in a very intimate way that few outside the industry understand. If any of our family need help coping  with this I hope provisions have been made to provide for them.

This week let’s take a slight detour and talk surviving the unthinkable active shooter scenario. I’m not an expert on this topic. This has highlighted a deficiency in my training which I intend to correct immediately by attending a few classes to learn more about the subject. There are two things I want to share. First is a civilian training video by Jim Wagner discussing how to survive an active shooter by employing the strategy of playing dead. The second is a post by Robert Farago entitled “Why you shouldn’t engage an active shooter & what to do if you do“. I did not write this Blog and I can make no claims as to the validity of the information. What I am doing is offering the SEMSNation community some food for thought on this topic. Imagine what would happen during  your next event if there where an “Active Shooter”.  What  would you do ? How do we prepare for the after math of such an unspeakably evil deed ?  

Don’t forget to check out episode 2 in the series “Self Defense  for the EMS Provider”. Click Here

Jim Wagner

Why You Shouldn’t Engage an Active Shooter And What to Do If You Do

Posted on December 12, 2012 by Robert Farago


I learned a great deal about police procedure at the SIG SAUER Active Shooter Instructor’s  Course. If there’s one key piece of information that an armed citizen facing a gun-wielding madman in a public place needs to know it’s this: a police officer who sees you with a firearm in your hand will shoot you dead. Nobody sets up a perimeter and waits for the SWAT team anymore. No one shouts “FREEZE!” The first law enforcement officers arriving on the scene of an active shooter enter, guns drawn and attempt to neutralize the threat. I repeat: the threat is anyone with a gun. Which means two things . . .

1. Don’t engage the shooter

You don’t have to watch as a madman takes innocent life; you have the right and (one hopes) the means to stop a lethal threat. But give the opting-out option serious consideration.

Protecting the lives of your loved ones and yourself (which protects them) is your first obligation. There’s nothing wrong with running away/hiding from an active shooter. More than anything else, the arriving police need intel on the shooter or shooters. If you provide it, you’re a hero.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t stop someone from taking innocent life.” Fair enough. It’s your life. Just realize that getting shot by the police is only one of the many downsides of taking on an active shooter. For example . . .

People don’t like people who shoot at them. If you engage an active shooter he’s going to engage you right back. If you have your family or friends in tow—as in near you—taking shots at the madman will draw fire towards your loved ones.

At the risk of emboldening the gun control industry, it’s also true that you might miss the madman and hit an innocent bystander. Or that another armed citizen might mistake you for the active shooter, or the active shooter’s accomplice. Or you might get shot by the accomplice. Or accomplices.

Yes, there is that. The public’s begun to assume that active shooters work alone. Cho, Loughner, Hasan, Holmes—one sicko per incident. T’ain’t necessarily so. One word: Columbine. And another: terrorists. While you can never know the whole story, a decision to shoot or not to shoot is only as good as the information it’s based on.

Bottom line: don’t rush in where angels fear to tread. Again, anyone with a gun in an active shooter scenario is a threat. You, another armed citizen, the bad guy, an undercover cop—anyone. And everyone involved is a little . . . stressed.

2. Be fast and move

If you’re going to engage an active shooter, whatever you do, don’t forget the “speed” part of “speed, surprise and violence of action” recipe for winning a gunfight.

With cops on their way, you have a small window of opportunity. Adrenalin will make it seem like an eternity between the onset of horror and the cops’ arrival, but the time available to bring your weapon to bear is measured in seconds.

Less if you’re not engaging at the very start of the incident. Less if an armed officer is already on scene.

It may seem obvious, but the closer you get to the threat the greater your chances of hitting your target. If the situation is desperate, consider moving towards the shooter. Call it commitment or craziness. Either way, you need to act decisively.

Seek cover but don’t get married to it. Odds are you’re facing a long gun of some kind. Those odds suck and the bullets coming out of the business end do so at warp speed; enough to prove that what you thought was cover was only concealment.

[NB: When the S is done H'ing the F, reholster and cover your gun soon as humanly possible. Or put the firearm down and move away (recognizing the possibility of multiple threats).]

I write this as an armchair warrior. I don’t know what I’d do if faced with an active shooter. I hope I never find out. But there’s one thing beyond dispute: it’s better to have a gun and decide not use it than to not have a gun. Period.

Related links

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Practical Defense Podcast