News Search

Knowing what to do, key to survival

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- Over the past 20 years there have been numerous deadly mass shootings at places such as a malls, movie theatres, schools as well as military installations. Earlier this week in California, two gunman killed 14 people and injured more than 20.

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people, most often in populated areas. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. In some instances, active shooters use improvised explosive devices to create additional victims and to impede first responders.

"The Air Force is not immune to this type of tragedy," said Capt. Aaron McCarthy, 157th Air Refueling Wing antiterrorism officer. "Fairchild Air Force Base as well as Moody and Eglin have had real world shooters situations that have resulted in loss of life."

Active Shooter Facts

- Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington: A former Airman killed four and wounded 23 with a semi-automatic rifle.
- Eglin Air Force Base, Florida: An estranged husband confronts hospital staff with hunting rifle at spouse's work center.
- McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey: A mentally unstable retiree kills one.
- Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, An NCO fires at wife's alleged boyfriend with handgun.
- Fort Bragg, North Carolina: An NCO killed one and wounded 18 with semi-automatic rifle.
- Fort Dix, New Jersey: Six homegrown "radical Islamist" planned to storm the base with automatic rifles.
- Fort Hood, Texas: An active duty major killed 14 and wounded 43 with a pistol.
- Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters, Washington: A gunman killed 12 and wounded 3 with 12 gauge shotgun.

These and other active shooter events in the United States over the past several years have resulted in the Air Force developing an active shooter training program to educate Airmen on how best to respond to ensure survival.

"Among the many important tips Airmen should understand is basic training such as Self-Aid and Buddy Care," said McCarthy. "If someone is injured in a shooting, they should be able to practice their SABC skills to ensure survival."

Additionally, Airmen should be aware of other important tips that can help save their lives and the lives of others, he said.

Active shooter tips

Lockdown - An announcement used on Air Force installations as a security measure to confine and restrict movement. All individuals, including military uniformed services, federal employees, contractors, dependents, or other people on an installation as a guest are required to restrict their movement when lockdown is declared. During lockdown, no person may enter or exit another area until the all clear is broadcasted; unless movement is required to escape from a dangerous place or situation.

Actions to Consider


- Assemble an emergency supply kit for your vehicle and workplace.
- Be aware of your surroundings and any possible dangers.
- Determine if your community has a warning system.
- Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.
- Know the evacuation plan for your workplace.
- Leave an area if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
- Develop a family communications plan and ensure all family members know how to use it if you were to become separated.


How you respond to an active shooter will be determined by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, remain calm, quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life, and use these guidelines to help you survive.

Outside the Immediate Incident Area

- Stay away from the incident area; there may be unknown dangers at or near the scene.
- Listen to local radio, television stations, and/or the installation's warning and notification system for the latest information.
- If announced, execute lockdown procedures at your location.
- Do not allow individuals to enter or exit the area during lockdown until the all clear is announced. Movement within the area (e.g. inside a facility) is permitted.
- Use phone services sparingly so they remain open for emergency responders.

Inside the Immediate Incident Area


- If an escape route is accessible, evacuate the immediate area.
- Leave your belongings behind.
- Help others evacuate, if possible.
- Evacuate even if others will not agree to follow you.
- Call 911 (or equivalent) when you are safe. Stay on the phone until the operator ends the call. Once evacuated, prevent others from entering the area.
- Follow any law enforcement instructions.
- If in view of or approaching law enforcement personnel, keep your hands visible.
- Do not attempt to move wounded individuals.


- If evacuation is not possible, find a place to create a barricade between you and the active shooter.
- Your barricade location should be where you are less likely to be found by the active shooter, provide you protection, and not restrict your options for movement.
- If possible, lock the door and/or block the door with heavy furniture. Turn off any lights and cover windows.
- Remain quiet and silence any devices (e.g. a cell phone) that may give away your hiding place.
- If safe to do so, call 911 (or equivalent) to alert law enforcement. Stay on the phone until the operator ends the call.

Take Action against the Shooter

- As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the shooter.
- Personnel should use whatever means possible to overpower the subject to save further lives.
- Use the minimum force necessary to subdue the shooter, however, deadly force is authorized when an individual reasonably believes they or others in the area are in immediate danger of death or serious bodily harm.

Information to Provide to Law Enforcement or when calling 911

- Number of active shooters, if more than one.
- Location of the shooter(s).
- Physical description of shooter(s).
- Time you observed the shooter(s).
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s).
- Number of potential victims at the location.

When Law Enforcement Arrives

- Law enforcement's purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible.
- Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard and will not stop to help injured persons until the shooter is neutralized.
- Remain calm and follow instructions.
- Place any items in your hands on the ground.
- Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers.
- Keep hands visible at all times.
- Do not impede law enforcement officers' movements, such as holding on to them for safety.
- Provide any information that may assist them in countering the threat.
- Avoid pointing, screaming, and/or yelling.
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or directions when evacuating, just proceed in the direction they instruct you to go.
- Move quickly to the assembly point.
- Expect to stay at the assembly point until the situation is under control.
- Know that you might be interviewed by law enforcement.
- Do not leave the assembly point until instructed by law enforcement.


- Stay away from the incident area.
- Listen to local radio, television stations, and/or the installation's warning and notification system for the latest information.
- Notify your friends and/or family of your condition.
- Use phone services sparingly so they remain open for emergency responders.
- Know and recognize the signs of incident related stress. Seek assistance as needed.

Did You Know...

The first law enforcement officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.

Information from this article was provided by the Air Force Emergency Management website.

For more information, contact McCarthy at 603-430-2615 or visit the Air Force's disaster's preparedness website at http://www.beready.af.mil.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.