Run, hide or fight – that’s the advice police are giving anyone who finds themselves in an active deadly threat situation.
A new video, released Wednesday by the Vancouver Police department, offers instructions to someone in a public space who encounters an active shooter or violent threat. The video was funded through the Vancouver Police Foundation to the tune of $20,000 and created with input from E-Comm, BC Emergency Health Services and Vancouver Fire and Rescue.
“If you’re out in a shopping mall, or you’re in a church or school or office building where you work – something like that, and all of a sudden somebody starts firing shots or somebody has come in with a knife… panic naturally sets in for people,” said police chief Const. Adam Palmer.
“So having that knowledge of three easy things to remember, I think, boils it down in an intense situation. You’re not thinking about ten different things; three things to remember and that’s what you focus on.”
The video details a mock situation of coworkers in an office, before a man carrying a large rifle enters the building and shoots at people in the entrance. Then, the coworkers go through a set of different scenarios.
The video details safe exit strategies, the information a 911 operator will ask, how to hide and barricade rooms, as well as what happens once police or first responders arrive.
Palmer said while the first two – running and hiding – come first, they might not be safe options.
If you cannot run or hide, you have to be prepared to fight, Palmer said.
“This is a last resort but you have every right to defend yourselves in these sorts of high risk situations,” he said.
Canada has been no exception to active shooters in years past.
In 2014, three people were wounded after an active shooter outside Science World was shot by police after a daylight shooting in Yaletown.
In 2017, a man walked into the emergency room of Boundary District Hospital with a gun. The man then shot himself and was airlifted to a Vancouver-area hospital.
Other shootings across Canada have turned devastating, such as the 2014 shooting in Moncton, New Brunswick that left three people dead.
That same year, an active shooter at Parliament Hill in Ottawa caused a lockdown prior to a shootout with parliament security personnel. A Canadian Forces member at the National War Memorial was killed before the shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was killed.
“These incidents do happen in Canada, as well,” Palmer said, “they are obviously more frequent in the United States but it is a risk anywhere in the world.”
Palmer said Vancouver police started undergoing exercises for hypothetical situations like this in September 2016, developing the instructional video along the way.
When asked if the video could cause an increase in panic or fear, Palmer said people need to be prepared because these events do happen in Vancouver and cities across B.C.
“We’re not trying to fear monger or anything like that, but I just think that putting our head in the sand and pretending everything is going to be fine is also not an option,” he said.
“It’s like preparing for earthquakes, or anything else – may not happen for 150 years but you have to be prepared for it.”