By Ron Kirkemo (USAG Stuttgart Emergency Management Office)March 7, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany -- When an active shooter situation occurs, witnesses must act quickly to protect themselves and others.
Knowing and understanding how to prevent, prepare, respond to and recover from potential hazards can save lives.
The most publicized active shooter incidents have been Columbine High School (1999), Virginia Tech (2007), and Fort Hood (2009).
The most recent active shooter event in the Stuttgart area occurred in 2009 in Albertville Technical High School in Winnenden. Nine students and three teachers were killed before the gunman fled, killed three passersby and then himself after he was cornered by the Polizei, according to a British Broadcasting Corporation article published in March 2009.
Many of these active shooter incidents could have been prevented if indicators of violence were reported and acted upon. It is everyone's responsibility to understand the indicators of a potentially violent individual, and report them immediately.
Some warning signs of potential violence in a co-worker could be overreacting to changes in policies, talking about incidents of violence or showing empathy for violent individuals.
Students show warning signs of violence when they become withdrawn, undergo changes in appearance and hygiene, start making suicidal comments or talk about weapons and violent crimes.
These behavioral examples are not comprehensive or intended to diagnose violent tendencies. However, community members who notice these signs in people around them should report them to a trusted official, such as a supervisor or teacher.
The best way to prepare for an active shooter situation is to ensure that all individuals know how to react, plans are in place and drills are conducted to validate those plans.
Leaders are requested to develop emergency action plans which define evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures, and ensure that emergency numbers are immediately available. Every community organization is responsible for its own emergency action plan and should conduct unannounced active shooter drills.
In the event of an active shooter, take the following actions, when applicable:
Aca,!Ac Evacuate: Leave everything behind, keep hands visible and follow instructions of any police officers.
Aca,!Ac Hide out: Stay out of sight, lock and barricade the door, silence cell phone and turn off radios. Hide behind large items that protect from gunfire, remain quiet and call the Military Police at civ. 0711-680-5262 or DSN 114, if possible.
Aca,!Ac As a last resort, take action against the shooter.
Aca,!Ac When law enforcement arrives, remain calm. Put hands in the air with fingers spread, and follow instructions from law enforcement personnel. Do not make sudden movements or question law enforcement.
Aca,!Ac In the event that witnesses are taken to a designated assembly area for questioning, following the incident, witnesses should stay in the area until they are officially released. While in the assembly area, group leaders can assist officials by determining if anyone in their group is missing and providing that information to law enforcement personnel.