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How to survive an active shooter attack

After the Las Vegas mass shooting, these are tips and tricks that can help you survive.
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gunfire was heard on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Getty Images

A lone person with a small arsenal approaches a crowded area and begins shooting indiscriminately.

It’s unthinkable. And yet, it happened again this week, in Las Vegas. Experts on so-called “active shooters” – armed assailants who are “active” in that they are mobile, and their location is unknown – have a multitude of tips and techniques for how to survive these attacks.

Read some of the tips below. They just may save your life.

“Run, Hide, Fight”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies typically recommend that people in an active shooter situation remember to “run, hide and fight.”

While these steps may seem simple, panic-stricken victims sometimes forget them, listed in order of priority.

The first, easiest and safest step to take if you encounter an active shooter is to run. Find an escape path and evacuate, whether others agree or not. Do not carry any belongings with you and move in a zig-zag motion while fleeing. Other tips include to help others if possible, prevent newcomers from entering the area of the shooting and call 911 after reaching a safe distance from the scene.

If you can’t evacuate, you should attempt to hide. Lock or blockade the door, silence your cell phone, hide behind large objects and attempt to remain very quiet. Try to find a hiding place that blocks you from the shooter’s view, would protect you if shots are fired in your direction and that does not obstruct possible escape options.

Fight, the last option, is one that unarmed civilians may not consider when attacked by a gunman. Nonetheless, a group of two to four would-be victims can easily overpower even a heavily armed lone shooter. If escape and hiding are not an option, confronting the shooter may be your best chance for survival.

Experts advise trying to incapacitate the shooter, using physical aggression, improvising weapons out of nearby objects and “commiting to your actions” – meaning don’t stop until you know the shooter is down.