How you can stay safe in a crowd

  • Police stand at the scene of Sunday's mass shooting during a concert along the Las Vegas Strip. Although most advice for surviving a mass shooting is geared toward an indoor event, experts say many of the rules to follow are the same when it happens outdoors.

    Police stand at the scene of Sunday's mass shooting during a concert along the Las Vegas Strip. Although most advice for surviving a mass shooting is geared toward an indoor event, experts say many of the rules to follow are the same when it happens outdoors. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/2/2017 4:39 PM

If a mass shooting happens near you, what you do -- and how quickly you do it -- can affect your chances of survival.

Something as simple as how you handle your phone can help keep you from becoming a target, experts say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Safety's guide to surviving an active shooter emergency details how you should react, based around the advice "run, hide, fight."

No matter where you are, stay aware of your surroundings, says Joe Hendry, a tactical response trainer based in Ohio. Simply knowing where the exits are located can cut valuable seconds off your flight from danger if something does happen.

If you're in jeopardy, drop everything and run, experts say. Don't pick up purses or backpacks. Turn off your phone so you don't make yourself a target by providing the shooter an illuminated screen or a noise to aim for, experts say.

Don't stop running away until you're safe, then call 911.

If you can't run, hide. Look for something solid to put between yourself and the danger. Outdoors, that can be a tree or a car. Stay quiet, too. Don't scream, call for help or even dial 911, experts agree. Don't come out of hiding until law enforcement officers find you.

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Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said because the city hosts large festivals every summer, the department has trained for years to respond to active shooting events at an outdoor venue like Ribfest and Last Fling. The hard part is training the public on how to respond.

"You're going there with the mindset you're going to enjoy a concert and you're probably not on high alert that something bad is going to happen," Marshall said. "We've been training because we have to be vigilant and aware of all the possibilities."

What if you're faced with an active shooter emergency and you're not able to run or hide? Experts said you have to be prepared to fight for your life. Use anything at your disposal to save yourself. If others are with you, coordinate your attack as well as you can.

Safety experts all agree that fighting back is the last resort, even if you are armed with a gun. They say armed citizens rarely have the training to deal with these situations and could be mistaken for the shooter by authorities responding to the crisis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Most advice for civilians is based on scenarios for enclosed spaces like an office, school or church. What happened in Las Vegas Sunday is different.

"When someone is above you firing into you, there is no hiding," said Hendry, who is with the Ohio-based ALICE Training Institute, which stands for "Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate," the steps law enforcement officials are taught to follow in responding to an active shooter.

For civilians in a situation like Sunday's shooting, his advice remains the same: Run, if you can. Photos from Las Vegas Sunday show some concertgoers in flight, while others are standing and some are still in their seats.

"You see people reacting differently to the same threat at that show and that's because their brains can't process what is happening to them in this type of scenario," he said.

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