What to do in an active shooter emergency

Security, self-defense experts talk tactics

SAN ANTONIO – If bullets fly and people fall, what will you do?

It's the question on many minds following the mass shooting in an Orlando night club. Should an active shooter choose your school, office or the bar you drink at, how do you survive?

Ryan Searles, the training manager at Espada Training Services, which teaches active shooter response, explains the response options: Avoid, Deny, Defend.

"Avoid" is pretty straightforward.

"If you can get out of the area, get out of there," Searles said. "If the shooter can't get to you then you're good."

"Deny" means blocking yourself off from the shooter. Get into a room and lock it, barricade it or find some other way to keep the shooter from getting to you.

Searles showed two devices his company sells: a special doorstop and a strap with a hook on the end of it. The doorstop has spikes in the bottom that will impact into concrete, keeping an inward-swinging door shut. The strap loops around a doorknob at one end and attaches to the doorframe with the clip end, keeping an outward-swinging door shut.

If those options fail, though, Searles says you will have to defend yourself and fight. He suggests doing that from near a doorway so there isn't a lot of space between you and the shooter.

Hiding under a desk is not an option, he says. "American furniture can be great but it doesn't stop bullets."

The focus at STW Krav Maga & Fitness isn't about avoiding or denying, it's about taking the shooter down. Owner and chief instructor Peter Hardy says that's how a shooting stops.

In the case of the Orlando nightclub, he said the best plan would have been for everyone to gang up on the shooter.

"The odds of being fatally wounded when you're attacking someone that's shooting are much less than just lying on the ground hoping for the best," he said.

Both Searles and Hardy say everyone should have a plan.

Hardy believes all schools and businesses should have formal training for active shooters.

"If there would have been a fire at that nightclub, they had a plan - how to exit if there's a fire," he said. "But they did not have a plan for an active shooter."

Searles said he gets his daughter into the planning mindset.

"We go to Chili’s," he says. "She has like 10 seconds. Find your exits. And she does that," he said. "It can be for an active shooter, but also it can be for a fire."

Both men say the fact is, active shooter emergencies are part of our reality, and everyone should be ready.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.