How To Survive A Mass Shooting: Survival Strategies, Plans, Training, And Even A Newly-Invented Device

Knowing how to survive a mass shooting before it happens can save lives according to police officers and other experts. With the incidence of mass murder and active shooter situations increasing, perhaps it is time to form strategies firmly in the minds of the public to help them survive shootings.

Survival strategies and even devices are being developed by police, armed forces, and survival experts around the country. North Carolina police sergeant Chris Kopp with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has developed a device to help save lives in classrooms in the event of a shooting. While the device is designed for the classroom, it could be used virtually anywhere, or at least anywhere there is a door with a knob, as he explained to WNCN.

Chris Kopp, an expert on how to survive a mass shooting expert who teaches active shooter survival classes, has studied various shooting scenarios in the development of his device. Sergeant Kopp’s invention involves a steel spool of braided Kevlar cord mounted on the wall next to each door. The device is explained in the video below and costs about $50.

Survival strategies are among Sergeant Chris Kopp’s many areas of expertise. He believes that barricading a door and staying closed off is the single best way to survive a mass shooting incident. He advises that if a shooter is in the room already, there is a whole other mindset involved. Sergeant Kopp told WNCN about how to handle a situation in which there is no way to barricade in.

“You need to start thinking about other options. One is trying to find a secondary exit – whether it be through a window, a ceiling, even going through a wall. Or being prepared if the gunman does come into the room. You need to be prepared to counter that gunman and to attack them in some shape or form. Just hiding under your desk, you’re just going to be a victim.”

Orlando Aftermath [Photo by Spencer Platt.Getty Images]
Orlando Aftermath [Photo by Spencer Platt.Getty Images]

Planning how to survive a mass shooting, and even training for an altercation with a gunman, before getting into that situation is the greatest of all survival strategies, according to Chris Kopp.

“When stress kicks in, common sense goes out the window. Unless you already trained that and planned it out, it’s going to be actually hard to do when something is actually happening.”

Survival strategies for an active shooter include the long-held “Run, Hide, Fight” strategy and the newer “Move, Escape, or Attack” method. Mike Wood is a proponent of “Move, Escape, or Attack.” Wood provides readers with a tactical analysis on Police One. Captain Mike Eckert is a proponent of “Run, Hide, Fight,” which is the most traditional strategy.

Here’s how to survive a mass shooting with “Run, Hide, Fight” survival strategies. These are the basic elements of the strategy, according to Tulsa World.

“RUN – If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate. Evacuate whether others agree to or not. Leave your belongings behind. Help others escape if possible. Prevent others from entering the area. Call 911 when you are safe.

HIDE – Lock and/or blockade the door.Silence your cell phone. Hide behind large objects. Remain very quiet. Your hiding place should: Be out of the shooter’s view, Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction, [but] not trap or restrict your options for movement.

FIGHT – Attempt to incapacitate the shooter. Act with physical aggression. Improvise weapons. Commit to your actions.”

All survival strategies have downsides or flaws, but the key to learning how to survive a mass shooting is training and planning, as well as developing the skill of thinking on one’s feet. Mike Wood proposes the “Move, Escape, or Attack” method because it forces people to get moving rather than standing frozen in shock or indecision. Unfortunately, unless potential mass shooting victims are prepared, this is the most common reaction to an unfamiliar situation. Mr. Wood, in his article on Police One, explains how beginning with the command “move” helps to prevent that squirrel-in-the-middle-of-the road syndrome.

“By commanding a person to ‘Move!’ as the first step in the model, we are hoping to ‘break the freeze’ and prompt them into action. The goal is to get the potential victim ‘off the x’ and complicate the targeting solution for the shooter, while simultaneously jump-starting the mind into problem-solving mode.”

Considering how to best survive in a mass shooting situation while in the midst of an active shooter event can, unfortunately, increase the odds of freezing up. The first step in this set of survival strategies is to move, even if it is unclear which direction to take. Wood suggests angular movements, rather than running in a straight path anyway, so keep moving and think in terms of cover and concealment while forming a plan of escaping or attacking, according to Wood.

Automatic weapons by handout Getty c
Automatic weapons [Photo by handout/Getty Images]

These survival strategies may seem similar, but the subtle differences make these how to survive a mass shooting strategies quite different. Unlike “Run, Hide, or Fight,” which is considered in that order, “Move, Escape, or Attack” gives equal weight to the last two options. Whether to escape or attack depends on circumstances that can only be assessed in the moment. It is better not to waste time ruling out either run or hide if neither one is possible in a given circumstance. The point of “Move, Escape, or Attack” is that escape and attack are considered equally, while fight, in the RHF strategy, is considered a last resort.

Knowing how to survive a mass shooting before coming face to face with a shooter is the key to survival. Mike Wood explains the “Move, Escape, or Attack” survival strategy is meant to be more efficient and proactive, but it is also a less fatalistic approach to avoiding being shot. The word “attack” is meant to be far different in spirit than the word “fight.” Attack means an offensive deliberate action taken with aggression and purpose as well as a real plan of attack and a powerful intent to survive.

While the survival strategy command “move” does not require thought and should be an immediate action, an individual should take those first seconds of movement to seek a route of escape, which could include survival strategies toward either concealment, cover, or, best of all, evacuating the area completely. The objective is to use the move time to actively consider the best route of escape, according to Mr. Wood. Likewise, movement gives the individual time to use that same line of sight to look for potential weapons and an advantageous point of attack. The plan doesn’t rule out either one.

Knowing how to survive a mass shooting and mastering survival strategies are more complex than simply reading this article, so those interested should look for a trainer.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]