In the fall of 2017, after returning from Nursing Management Congress2017 and the National Conference for Nurse Practitioners, both of which took place in Las Vegas immediately following the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival
, I received an invitation from my state nurses association to an active shooter training. I felt compelled to attend this training and vowed to write about what I learned here on this blog. I attended the training session and took extensive notes of the valuable lessons I learned. Well, time passed, and that to-do item got pushed down on my list, which both embarrasses me and teaches me a valuable lesson.
Time goes by. While we don’t forget tragedies, over time we do get caught up in the everyday chaos of our lives and think “I’ll get to that later.” On February 14th
, the 18th
school shooting occurred in the United States since the beginning of 2018. That’s 18 school shootings in 45 days. Unacceptable. We can’t put this on the back burner any longer.
There are many famous quotes about not being able to change others (or the world) without making changes to oneself. So, I challenge you to think about what you can do to address issues related to gun control, mental health, and protecting students, staff, and teachers. What I can do right now is share what I learned from the Pennsylvania State Police back in December of 2017 and share a list of resources to help us all be prepared for an active shooter incident.
Pennsylvania State Nurses Association Active Shooter Training: December 4, 2017
Here are some key takeaways from this presentation:
- Many victims say, “I didn’t know what to do,” or “I was just waiting my turn to be shot.” The important lesson here is to tell people in an active shooter situation to do something. Time is a valuable commodity, and by doing something, one takes some time away from the shooter.
- 63% of active shooter incidents are in commerce or an education environment, but no place is off limits.
- Active shooter incidents typically evolve quickly and end (historically) within 10 to 15 minutes; 36% end before the police arrive.
- Be prepared:
- Mental preparation – Chaos and panic will occur. As best as you are able, trust your instincts, breathe, and remain calm.
- Sounding the fire alarm is NOT recommended. The potential negative consequences outweigh the benefit.
- People are complacent with fire alarms.
- People won’t think “active shooter.”
- Role of police – Police officers are there to neutralize the threat, not treat injured.
- Three options (you may have to do all three):
- Run – If you have an opportunity to escape, do so.
- Hide – Don’t let anyone in.
- Fight – Fight for your life with whatever you have. There is power in numbers and the shooter is typically not looking for a fight.
It is incumbent upon you to be mindful of these things and know how to react if you are involved in an active shooter situation. Think, if you were to be involved in an active shooter situation tomorrow, would you be able to answer the following:
- Are you prepared?
- How would you react?
- Are others prepared?
- Do you know what to expect?
- What is your ability to protect?
The final thoughts of the presentation? “Be prepared and plan to survive.”
National Association of School Nurses: Violence in Schools
Active Shooter Resources from the FBI
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Preparedness
National Institute of Mental Health
Plunging Forward in the Aftermath of the Las Vegas Tragedy
Is there a Cure for Gun Violence?
Active shooter on campus!
Active Shooters: What Emergency Nurses Need to Know