The recent terrible events in Paris and Bamako illustrate the importance of active shooter awareness and response training for the average traveler. In the US active shooter training is frequently presented in the context of a workplace violence incident. This is just one possible scenario however. Even within the US there is a good chance if you encounter an active shooter it may occur outside the workplace in some other republic space like a shopping mall.
While Paris is not thought of as a high risk destination is has been the site of several notable terrorist attacks recently the Charlie Hebdo attack and the multiple target attacks of 13 November 2015. In these events as in the Mumbai attacks, the Nairobi Westgate Mall and the attack on the Radisson Hotel in Bamako there is an increasing shift by terrorists away from using explosive devices to team attacks using small arms and basic tactics. This has proven very effective for terrorist groups as the attacks are relatively low tech, can produce high casualty counts and can continue for a sustained period of time, especially in locations where law enforcement and security forces are less capable.
Therefore it’s important for travelers to understand and be able to implement active shooter response methods.
The basic model for active shooter response is the “Run-Hide-Fight” protocol. This is described in this video produced by the City of Houston: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/active-shooter-and-mass-casualty-incidents/run-hide-fight-video.
Additional resources are available from the US Department of Homeland Security and can be found here: http://www.dhs.gov/publication/active-shooter-how-to-respond
Reviewing and understanding these basic concepts can be the difference between living and dying in a violent event. While there are no ironclad rules that will keep you safe it’s important to have a framework and options for response should you find yourself in the middle of one of these events.