Local News

What to do in an active shooting situation

SPOKANE, Wash. - Local law enforcement say preparation is key and having a plan could save your life.

Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Johnston said understanding what to do in an emergency is crucial to making sure everyone is ready for the worst case scenario before it happens.

"These situations, each one is dynamic and will unfold in a different way. No two are the same,” Johnston said.

Johnston said there is a model specialists tend to look to during active shooter situations. It's called the run, hide, fight model.

"If we can run to escape the danger, that is good and we should do that. If running is not possible and locking down makes more sense, we'll do that. We will find a place to hide and look for things to hide behind within that place to hide to protect yourself a little bit," Johnston said.

And if you come face to face with the attacker, he had this advice.

"It is important for people to know we have the right to defend ourselves. And that means using whatever force is reasonable and necessary for any given situation," Johnston said.

Many trainings detail that you may not actually recognize gun shots for what they are because when we hear them in movies or on television, they're enhanced.

It's important that you immediately begin the run, hide, fight model as soon as you hear shots fired. But, quick action may be hard, depending on how your body responds to stress.

Johnston said you should be prepared for your body to react to what's happening.

"You have elevated heart rate, rapid breathing. You may even experience some tunnel vision, some loss of hearing, certainly some loss of fine motor skills. Cognitive thinking is impaired,” Johnston said. "And that will obviously affect your decision making. So when it comes to what to do, in these situations, that is why it is so important to consider it in advance and spend some time getting information before you get yourself in one of these situations.”

In urban communities, it usually only takes minutes for authorities to respond to a shooting, and when they arrive, it's crucial you listen to their commands.

They may ask you to put your hands up, drop whatever you have in your hand, or get on the ground.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office does have resources to learn more about how to safely respond during a situation like this. You can contact Deputy Johnston directly by emailing him at crjohnston@spokanesheriff.org.