On June 12, 2016, 49 people lost their lives to an armed gunman that entered Pulse Orlando, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Omar Mateen entered the crowded club and started to shoot, creating chaos within the building.
Many people were injured, and some managed to escape or outsmart the gunman.
This tragic incident was officially the worst mass shooting in America’s history. It is with this massacre that citizens must consider their future safety and their knowledge of what to do when someone enters an area with the intent to kill.
In the case of Auburn University, it is important for students to become aware of how to handle such a situation.
What should one do when called, texted or emailed by the AU Alert notification system informing them of an active shooter on campus?
According to Capt. Scott Mingus of the Auburn Police Department and active shooter safety instructor, leave the area immediately and go as far away as possible
“Notification is key, but unfortunately it happens after the event happens," Mingus said. "Know whether you must get out of there or need to barricade — especially in a multi-story building."
Mingus said all police officers in Lee County are trained on how to handle the situation,
“The active shooter classes are being taught in the police academy," he said. "Every officer in this county has training [on what to do in the case of an active shooter].”
According to Mingus, the initial officers’ main focus is to move toward and remove the threat. Following officers will assist the injured and evacuate remaining students.
When calling 911, Mingus recommended assigning one person to make the call to keep lines free, especially when barricaded within a multi-story building. Other people within the barricade group can assist by messaging friends on the outside to notify room location and the state of everyone within the room.
In the case the shooter enters the room Mingus had other advice. The main goal is to escape if possible.
“It is up to the individual person ... to do whatever you can to protect yourself, be it throwing chairs, books or whatever is near," Mingus said.
In the case that the shooter is on the same floor and their location is not known, Mingus said a lockdown may be required. Lock the door if possible.
“An active shooter wants to cause as much havoc as possible ... hindering that process will cut down on what they want to do," Mingus said. "Minimizing that will [make the shooter move on, making it better for you].”
Whether it comes to turning off lights, it depends.
“We do not know what the mental state of the shooter is, what is more important than the light is barricading the door," he said.
According to Mingus, the policy for lockdown has changed over the years as more school shootings have increased. There are different lockdown methods that recommend turning off the light or blacking out the door window, but inevitably the decision should be based on how much time there is before the shooter arrives.
Effectively barricading the door can be as simple as placing a wedge to prevent the door from opening to moving all desks and a heavy teacher’s desk in front of the door. To make a wedge, simply use a piece of a wood.
Mindset throughout the situation is also important.
“You have to have the mental state to survive," Mingus said. "I would emphasize anybody to take a class or some type of training for active shooter safety."
Auburn University Department of Public Safety and Security with the partnership of Mingus and the Auburn Police Department hosts a series of active shooter safety trainings throughout the year. The training is free and lasts an hour and thirty minutes.
“I learned not to be sitting duck," said Jamie McClintock, who has participated in the training sessions several times. "I learned [growing up] to hide under the desk, [through the training session] I learned how to actively get out.”
The next training session will be June 21, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Foy Auditorium.
In addition to the training sessions, University public safety has released an informational video on how to deal with the case of an active shooter. The video explains the ALICE system: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, which goes into further detailed steps on how to effectively face the situation of an active shooter on campus.
“I really do feel more confident after attending the sessions,” McClintock said. “Having those tools made me think ‘If I was in this situation ... here’s what I can do.’ In that situation, I could be of help.”