Learn How To Survive A Shooting Situation

“With mass shootings in schools, theaters, churches and workplaces, experts in threat assessment have come up with advice about what to do.This is a grim topic for an advice article, and the odds that you personally will be a victim of a mass shooting are low. But experts say mass shootings have become so frequent and deadly in the United States that people should think in advance about how they will respond if the worst happens. In general, they have settled on a simple guideline: “run, hide, fight.” C. Hauser, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Poster: Ready Navy

Excerpt: What to Do When There’s an Active Shooter, Christine Hauser, The New York Times

“The specific situation and location matters. ‘There is never going to be a universal rule for this,’ said Bob Kolasky, an acting deputy undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security who oversees active shooter training.

You’ve Got to Know What You’d Do Before It Actually Happens.

The department has published detailed advice, defining an ‘active shooter’ as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place. The advice is based on actual cases. It can be chilling to consider, but the more prepared you are, the better your chances of survival.

The State Office of Risk Management


‘There is chaos,’ Mr. Kolasky said. The more you have got protocols in place, the more likely you are to minimize the damage.

Look around you. Where are the exits?

When you hear gunfire, the first response should be to escape. But would you know how to escape? Experts advise being familiar with quick routes out of your workplace. And whenever you are in a new location, take note of the exits. Use them if you are sure that your path will not take you in the gunman’s direction…Do not pull a fire alarm. That creates confusion as to whether what is happening is a drill, as happened in the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla., where the gunman himself pulled the alarm, the authorities said.

Where do I hide?

If escape is not an option, you should hide, although Dr. Blair prefers to use the more active term ‘deny access’ rather than what he calls ‘hide and hope.’ Dart into a room, closet, anywhere there is a door to lock, or at least to close and barricade.

Play Dead?

Playing dead is generally not a good idea, Dr. Blair said. Gunmen have been known to circle back and fire into wounded people or others on the ground, he said. But in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, a teacher remained motionless after being shot in the leg and then escaped after the gunman had moved on…’Keep operating if shot,’ Dr. Blair said. ‘Try to get yourself out.’

What should I do after hiding?

Don’t stop to grab belongings, not even your cellphone. But if you do have one, once you are hidden, call 911, identify yourself and explain briefly what is happening and where. 

  1. Silence the phone or stop speaking but leave it on so the dispatcher can hear. 
  2. Turn off lights.
  3. Do not talk with others in the room if the gunman is nearby. ‘Stay quiet as a mouse,’ Dr. Dietz said.
  4. Social media use might give away your location or help the attacker know where the police are, Dr. Blair warned.

The last resort: Fight.

If you are strong enough, wrestle or jump the gunman if he stops to reload, which could take just seconds. That is how some stopped the gunman who shot former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a supermarket near Tucson, Ariz., in 2011…All of the experts emphasized that confronting the attacker was a last resort.

What if someone else is hurt or calls for help?

If you are safely hidden, think twice about opening the door again, even for colleagues or friends who are knocking or calling for help. ‘Only open the door for someone else if you know the shooter is not in the area,’  Dr. Dietz said.

When help arrives, here is what to do.

When the police arrive, they might not be sure immediately who the suspect is. Put your hands up and spread your fingers to show you are not carrying anything that could be mistaken for a gun. Do not hug the officers, ask them questions or request first aid. Show them, do not tell them, that you are not part of the threat.”

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ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Lesson Plan: Learn How To Survive A Shooting Situation

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about active shooting situations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Bob Kolasky is acting deputy undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
  2. Gunmen usually open fire in a populated and confined place.
  3. This scenario can be chilling to consider.
  4. If you believe you are in the gunman’s line of sight, run in a zigzag course.
  5. Many workplaces and schools prepare workers and students for lockdowns and evacuations.
  6. When you hide try to barricade or lock  the door.
  7. All of the experts emphasized that confronting the attacker was a last resort.
  8. If someone near you is hurt and it would not jeopardize your safety, try to help them.
  9. Use a tourniquet to slow bleeding if possible.
  10. Apply pressure to stanch blood from less severe wounds.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org


Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. According to the article the specific situation and location matters.
  2. If possible pull a fire alarm for assistance.
  3. An active shooter is described  as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place.
  4. When you hear gunfire, the first response should be to fight.
  5. Whenever you are in a new location, take note of the exits.
  6. If on a higher floor, use elevators. Windows are also an option.
  7. If you believe you are in the gunman’s line of sight, run in a straight line or from cover to cover.
  8. If escape is not an option, you should fight.
  9. You can also hide under your desk if there is no alternative. It’s not the best choice, but removing yourself from the line of sight and gunfire is better than nothing.
  10. Playing dead is generally a good idea.

Grammar Focus:Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

Many ___and schools use ___to prepare workers and students for ___and evacuations.

But if you are someplace like a ___ look for the___ yourself. Mr. Kolasky, who worked with the National Association of Theatre Owners after the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, said___service announcements in theaters often ___them out. But they are only ___to the degree that people pay attention, he said.

WORDLIST: successful, point, public, theater, lockdowns, workplaces,  exits, drills,

III. Post Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion for Comprehension

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.


Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.