AT Awareness: What to do in an active shooter incident

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Originally published by Lee A. Wyatt

Stuttgart is not immune to the possibility of an active shooter incident. Whether in a civilian environment or on one of the many military installations here, an active shooter event could happen at any time. Active shooter incidents have risen sharply over the past several years and continue to be random, extremely unpredictable and happen with little to no warning. The threat of an active shooter event is real and everyone must be ready to act at a moment’s notice if the situation arises.

As service members and DA Civilians, we’ve been taught to “know your surroundings,” synonymous with having “Situational Awareness” (continuously evaluating surroundings and planning a “way out” of any situation). However, how many of us actually practice this mental activity in our busy daily lives?

Knowing your surroundings and having good situational awareness includes being ready to react to various types of criminal and life threatening situations, where quick, informed decision making may save your life as well as others. In the event that an active shooter incident unfolds, individuals or groups can institute immediate actions that can be utilized to mitigate victimization.

If you are ever faced with an active shooter incident, apply the “RUN – HIDE – FIGHT” principles.

1. The first and most important action is to attempt to RUN from the scene or building, as quickly and safely as possible.

Evacuating the scene may not be easy to accomplish, however it should be the primary goal when feasible if an active shooter incident takes place. Do not stop to gather personal belongings, lock doors, or treat the wounded. Get to safety as quickly as possible.

2. When escape is not possible, the second action to take is to HIDE.

Hide anywhere that provides you with the best protection. Seek cover, not to be confused with concealment. Cover is any material that can reasonably be expected to stop the travel of a bullet fired from small arms such as handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Concealment only hides you from observation. Lock yourself in offices and hide under a desk or behind filing cabinets. Stay low and avoid standing behind doors or walls if at all possible, as active shooters will often shoot through doors and walls, especially if they are looking for specific targets. Keep in mind that all cover is concealment, since it hides you from bullets and from sight, but not all concealment is cover.

3. The third and least recommended action is to FIGHT.

Attacking an active shooter is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted as a last resort. If you feel you have no chance to run or hide, attacking may be your only option.

When individuals reach to the point of being an active shooter, they typically display no empathy or emotion and don’t fear death. Active shooters are normally motivated by anger, being an outcast or seeking revenge. In some cases, they are motivated and are supported by terrorists or extremist views. In almost all cases active shooters cannot be stopped without direct law enforcement involvement or by the suspect taking their own life. By applying the iWATCH phrase “See Something, Say Something” and reporting suspicious activities and behaviors to your supervisor or local law enforcement office by phone and online, you may help to prevent an incident from happening.

To report suspicious activity in the Stuttgart military community, people can do the following:

  1. There’s an app for that. Download the iReport app, visit
  2. Call the Military Police at DSN 430-5262/civ.  0711-680-5262.

To report an imminent threat or crime in progress, immediately contact the military police office by dialing DSN 114, or reach host-nation law enforcement by dialing commercial in Germany: 112.