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Active shooter rules

‘Active Shooter’ is a term used by law enforcement to describe a situation in which a shooting is in progress. The ‘Active Shooter’ is a person or persons who actively engage in killing or attempting to kill people, more often than not, in a confined and populated area. In the majority of cases the ‘Active Shooter’ will use firearms, hence the name, writes Steve Collins, pictured, of training company PS5.

Usually, these situations develop extremely quickly and are completely unpredictable and frequently over in less than ten minutes or so. Seldom is there any apparent pattern or method behind the choice of victims.

Most of us will never be involved in an incident such as this, but ‘Active Shooters’ can strike anywhere, at any time, so preparation is paramount to making the right decisions if it were to happen. The horrific consequences of an ‘Active Shooter’ have been weighing heavy on the minds of the authorities for decades, but current ‘Active Shooter’ incidents and attacks in shopping malls, on city streets, in military or government properties, hospitals, cafes, concert halls, schools, business premises and even places of worship. This has motivated and augmented efforts and investment in risk mitigation and training in how to react appropriately in a worst case scenario.

Make no mistake, to inflict the maximum irrevocable damage in just a few minutes, the terrorists and sociopaths who commit these monstrously heinous crimes are becoming more and more creative in their planning and advance reconnaissance of vulnerable locations and soft targets. The majority of ‘Active Shooter’ incidents are over well before any law enforcement arrives, so the choices that are made in the first few seconds are critical to the chances of survival. The FBI estimate that an average of 20 incidents will occur every year in the USA, and with the increase of ‘Active Shooter’ incidents around the world, understanding how to react appropriately in these situations is becoming more essential.

To ensure an effective civilian response to an ‘Active Shooter’, proactive training and education is required. It is for this reason that we should all invest in an ‘Active Shooter’ training and response programme, in addition to any personal safety and work place violence programme that may already be in place. Even if law enforcement are present and able to respond within minutes, civilians will be faced with having to make life and death decisions, and therefore, should be engaged in training and discussions on the decisions they may face.

It is for this reason that I have written a new book in my ‘RULES’ series [featured in the February 2017 print issue of Professional Security]. ‘Rules for dealing with an Active Shooter’ is a 16 page set of simple guidelines that have been designed to raise situational awareness, provide guidance on how to identify potential attackers and explain how best to react if an attack occurs.

Many law-enforcement-based training programmes are driven by the simplistic “Run, Hide, Fight” mantra, and of course this works well. However, I have added a slightly different twist, and emphasise ‘5 Rules’ although, of course, the goals are the same. There is a need to train civilians in not only how to mitigate risk but also how to cope with the massive stress and anxiety of an actual attack and its aftermath, so that they can react rationally, despite the bedlam and chaos around them. If you don’t have training and an organised plan, you don’t have anything.

About the writer

From a career that began almost 50 years ago as a professional designer and writer in the advertising industry, Steve Collins is now possibly better known for his expertise in public safety and security related training.

Over the years Steve’s passionate interest in personal protection led him to develop expertise in some of the most specialised of security-related disciplines: from the recognition and detection of concealed weapons (think you can’t be shot dead by a key ring? think again) to the creation of R·E·A·C·T, a ground breaking system of self defence, personal protection and confrontation management.

For more than two decades his company ‘PS5’ has been publishing training and educational material and been a training provider to the law enforcement, defence and security sectors.

For most of his career Steve has been dedicated to the preservation of life, and has trained and educated thousands of men, women, and children around the world in how to stay out of harm’s way and protect themselves and others. He is now recognised internationally as a teacher of modern combat systems and also traditional martial arts. Also, his best selling books, editorial features and R·E·A·C·T Survival Files, are now used throughout the world.

In these specialised areas Steve is now a familiar face internationally, delivering training and lectures on officer and public safety to friendly government agencies, police forces, universities and the corporate sector; with specific focus on weapons-related crime and personal protection from violence, aggressive behaviour and terrorism. He advises UK, USA and Middle Eastern Government bodies, and wrote, compiled and published the definitive ‘Manual of Prohibited and Concealable Weapons’, used by law enforcement agencies and security professionals in over 60 countries.

Steve has won international awards and accolades for his work, most recently in recognition of his contribution to ‘Making the world a safer place’. His latest ventures include the setting up of a new organisation called ‘The Urban Survival Association’, and becoming a strategic partner of Northern Ireland-based Mercury Security Management with his new training course ‘Rules for Dealing with an Armed Robbery and Dealing with Verbal & Physical Confrontation’ for the retail sector.


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