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Stop, Drop, & Roll Reinvented: Active Shooter Survival

Posted by Jessica Carmichael on 9/28/12 8:55 AM

By: Bill Kimball, Founder/Owner
Safety Management & Response Training Associates
(Article from ECSI eNews: September 2012)

Stop, Drop, and Roll. Those familiar with this concept know that these three words helped define a simple, yet highly effective message for personal fire safety.

The beauty of the Stop, Drop, and Roll campaign was its simplicity. It was simultaneously a call to action and a lesson. It could be easily understood, recalled, and implemented by all ages, and represented a low-cost method for safety agencies to disseminate the word
to the masses.

While the threat of fire is still a concern, fire prevention and education efforts (part of which was Stop, Drop, and Roll) have vastly reduced mortality rates. In the United States, these deaths dropped by 66% from 1979 to 2007, as collected in the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).

But this article isn’t about reducing fire-related mortality, rather, how to take the lessons learned from the Stop, Drop, and Roll campaign and apply them to the contemporary threat of an active shooter.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines an active shooter as:

“An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and other populated area…active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.”

Because of the volatile nature of these situations, how rapidly they can escalate, and the fact that any public area is a potential trouble spot, it is imperative that average citizens be given a process – every bit as simple as Stop, Drop, and Roll – to guide their own decision making skills during a violent encounter.

So, how can Stop, Drop, and Roll be reformatted to answer this need? This is a question the Department of Homeland Security and the Houston (TX) Office of Public Safety and
Homeland Security recently sought to answer. The result? Run, Hide, and Fight.

A video, the product of this joint venture, can be viewed here.

As taken from that video, the concept of Run, Hide, and Fight is simply:

Run – If you are able to find a means or path to escape, you must attempt to evacuate even if others disagree. Encourage others to evacuate with you, however, do not let them hold you up. Prevent others from entering the area and call 911.

Hide – Find an office, closet, conference room, or other area with a lockable door. If you’re unable to find such an area, hiding behind large objects can be a viable alternative. Be sure to silence all mobile devices (not just phones but tablets and e-Readers, anything that might have audible alerts/reminders), and remain quiet.

Fight – If you find yourself without a means to escape or a place to hide, as a last resort, you should physically engage the violent individual by whatever means necessary to subdue him/her. Utilize whatever is nearest as an improvised weapon and rally others to assist you with your effort. You must commit to the idea of fighting back.

So, why Run, Hide, and Fight? Consider this: public safety agencies are reactionary entities with varying response times, often arriving well after an active shooter has begun the assault. This means that the average citizen is likely to be on his or her own during the first few critical moments of an encounter.

As ECSI educators, we can incorporate freely available materials into our programs with ease. FEMA’s own Emergency Management Institute offers two online course modules (completely free of charge) for anyone interested in taking them. Even better, upon successfully passing a module, the learner is provided a certificate of completion (which makes it nice and easy to add as a requirement for a First Aid or Emergency Medical Responder program).

Not since Stop, Drop, and Roll has a more powerful message been contained in three short words.


Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security Active Shooter Handout

FEMA/Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Management Institute Active Shooter: What You Can Do free online course (IS-907) & downloadable classroom materials

FEMA/Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Management Institute Active Shooter: Workplace Security Awareness free online course (IS-906) & downloadable classroom material

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