The act of violence unfolding before the nation this morning fills our hearts with sadness and reminds us of the horror and fear we have experienced within the last year across this country.  And yes, it is a sad, but essential, reminder to us all.

At the forefront of this reminder is the response model advocated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, commonly referred to as “Run, Hide or Fight.” The key components of this response model are as follows:

  • RUN: Individuals should immediately flee the area of danger as soon as safely possible, taking great care to be as quiet as possible, and to gather as many fellow employees as practical on the way to a safe location. Personal property – and those who are injured or wounded and unable to flee – must be left behind.
  • HIDE: If unable to flee safely out of the building, individuals should lock and/or barricade themselves in a secure room as soon as possible, taking care to turn out any lights and to silence their cell phones, pagers and other electronic devices that could inadvertently reveal their location.  Individuals should also seek cover and concealment from any active shooter(s).  Cover is defined as those objects that will help protect a person from gunfire or explosives, while concealment is defined as those objects that may hide a person from the active shooter’s view.
  • FIGHT: If unable to escape the presence of the active shooter(s), and if all other means of securing a safe location are not available, it may be necessary to resort to the use of whatever force is possible to incapacitate the active shooter(s).  Employees should make use of whatever nearby devices that could be used as a weapon against the active shooter(s), such as a fire extinguisher.  As a last resort, if a group effort to fight the active shooter(s) is the only possible response, large numbers of people acting in concert together quickly may be able to fight and overpower the active shooter(s) with brute force.  Single individuals should also fight with whatever force is possible if necessary.

In the hours and days ahead, we will begin to uncover the real story.  We will hear, firsthand, the accounts of those who were forced to choose one of the response options over the other two. We will hear how it saved lives. And sadly, we will hear stories of lives lost too early.