Expert shares 4 key points for active shooter preparedness

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Friday, two active shooter situations in the United States-- one at Santa Rosa High School after a student brought a replica gun to school on the last day of class. The other claimed the lives of 12 people, with several others injured, perpetrated by a disgruntled employee at a Virginia Beach municipal office building.

The phenomena has rapidly turned more and more common, each scenario involving different weapons, settings, motives and victims.

Bay Area based Threat Scenarios specializes in training civilians and law enforcement about how to handle a violent situation, including active shooter situations. Using live scenarios with props and experienced instructors, the program puts trainees inside a warehouse and throws a series of situations.

Trainees navigate multiple scenarios and instructors analyze their decisions over a two-day course.

The company stresses four keys for active shooter preparedness:

  1. Situational awareness. Identifying threats before they become threats. Pick out exits and plan for a means of escape.
  2. Run. Try to get out of the area as fast as possible. If exits are blocked, one may be forced to create their own (ex. breaking a window.)
  3. Hide. Lock yourself in an office and find a piece of cover.
  4. Fight. If everything fails, you must fight with "surprise, speed and violent action."


Instructors at Threat Scenarios pay close attention to the news and research the latest incidents to incorporate them into their exercises. The random nature of active shooter situations and the speed at which the violence escalates makes it difficult to prevent active shooters.

Safety instructors say that as they become more common, people should treat it like any other disaster. Much like an earthquake or fire drill, creating a plan and practicing is key.

"These situations are very dynamic and incredibly dangerous and all we can do is teach people that having a plan and being acclimated to stress can help improve their odds," said co-owner Brad Engmann. "But there is no solution to how you can survive something like this."
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