As you may or may not know, in addition to writing full time, I work at my local library. It's a fantastic, upbeat job. I'm surrounded by books, by people who love books. We talk about books all day. What could possibly be menacing about my job?
Yet yesterday, I had to sit through a workshop entitled 'Active Shooters'. All county employees are required to attend. This workshop was designed by our local law enforcement and homeland security agency, spurred by recent and not-so-long ago incidents where a nutball storms a school, mall, or workplace and randomly shoots down victims.
They also covered targeted shootings spurred by domestic violence. I could have done without having to listen to the actual 911 call where a cocktail waitress of a local casino called to say her ex had followed her from her workplace to her car--and then to hear her scream as he killed her with shotgun blasts. Nice.
That aside, the workshop was informative and useful, I guess, but disturbing. How sad and scary that we live in times where these kinds of attacks are becoming so common we need to be educated on how to respond should we find ourselves in the middle of a public rampage. The overlying message: It could happen anywhere, at any time. What about the man who recently gunned down all those women at a LA Fitness Gym?
At any rate, as sobering as this workshop was, I thought I'd pass on the top three suggestions by law enforcement as to how to respond if you are in a building (or anywhere for that matter) and hear gunshots.
1) Evacuate. Run like hell in the opposite direction of the gunshots. Get out of the building. If you can't get out....
2) Hide out. If possible in a room where you can lock and barricade the door. Just get out of the shooter's view. If you can't run or hide then....
3) Take action against the active shooter. As a last resort, and only when your life's in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by acting as aggressively as possible against them--for instance throwing items and improvising weapons.
I was surprised that they actually advised you against playing dead.
One thing about this workshop, it certainly fueled the fire for a proposal I'm working on where the heroine is fighting a severe 'death' phobia intensified daily by news reports.
I will now tuck away this information, God forbid I ever need it, and return to my rose-colored-glasses life.