Tips on handling emergencies in public

STATEWIDE — It shouldn’t be something anyone has to ever think about, but sadly in this day and age, knowing how to escape with your life from an active shooter situation is something we must all be familiar with. How can you better your chances?


Danny Wright is a former Colonel with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office who served for more than 30 years, and today sits on the board of Hedge Tactical Solutions as a safety instructor and analyst advising companies, school districts and other organizations on how to increase safety and minimize the bloodshed if a shooting were to take place.   

A few of his tips

Know where the exits are: Exit signs are deliberately designed to be easy to spot. Whether you are someplace familiar like work or school, or entering a new structure like a restaurant or movie theater, always take note of where the exits are. Knowing where the emergency exits are will help you in most emergencies, not just active shooter situations. Don’t forget that windows might often be your best escape option, so know how to open them quickly.

Seek shelter: It is very important to get something between you and the shooter. Hiding behind something can save your life when gunfire is involved. If you cannot make your way to an exit fast enough, hiding is your best bet for staying alive. Be aware of potential hiding places at all times, so you are prepared if something happens.

Avoid stampedes: Basic human instinct tells us to run in the opposite direction when you encounter an emergency. However, if everyone is running in a single direction, it can cause a stampede and potentially create more injuries and prevent people from reaching safety. The safest thing to do when fleeing from an active shooter is to move with the flow of the crowd and stay on the perimeter.

Never engage with the shooter: You should never try to engage with an active shooter unless you are an armed professional. Even if you are bigger, stronger and feel pretty confident that you can take him down, he has a gun and you don’t. Leave that for trained law enforcement. Get out of the way and stay out of the way to be as safe as possible.

Emergency plans save lives: Every school, workplace, warehouse and religious body should have an emergency plan. In fact, having an emergency plan in your own home is a very smart idea. Make sure that everyone who occupies the building on a regular basis is familiar with the emergency plan. Conduct regular drills each month. Being prepared will save lives in a real situation.

 Act quickly: An active shooter scenario happens in the blink of an eye, so it’s important to move as quickly as possible. If someone opens fire in your vicinity, do not hesitate – get to a safe location as quickly as you can.

Use technology: Active threat systems, mass notification software and mobile app technology are just some of the new tech tools being developed and many are already on the market. All of these systems can help minimize the bloodshed and increase the chances of survive in the event of the unthinkable. In the very near future, these soon be as common as smoke alarms and security systems.

Use common sense: Like most things in life, common sense is going to be your best defense. Always report suspicious activity or threats to law enforcement. Remain vigilant and keep your eyes open. Lastly, if something or just doesn’t seem right, it’s better to be overcautious and let the authorities aware of it.


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