“Run. Hide. Fight.” Ohio State University students and faculty received this message Monday morning after a student terrorized the campus with a car and knife, sending 11 people to the hospital.
This message has been promoted by local and national law enforcement agencies as the best tool for students and faculty to use when an active assailant incident occurs.
“If you can run, run. If you can hide, hide. And if you don’t have any other option you can fight,” said San Francisco Police Officer Carlos Manfredi. “That’s what is recommended if you are a student.”
Manfredi said that dealing with a person wielding a knife, like the Ohio State attack, is the same as dealing with a person wielding a gun – the protocol does not change.
“If the person knows how to use a knife, he can do more damage than he could with a gun,” Manfredi said. “And (officers) are still under the assumption that the person is still looking for another target to stab.”
SF State Deputy Chief of Police Reginald Parson said that the protocol of engaging an active shooter has changed in recent years, with the rise of more mass shootings in the U.S. Parson said the Columbine mass shooting in 1999 heavily shaped today’s protocols for dealing with assailants.
Parson said the protocol for law enforcement in past years recommended setting a perimeter, assessing the threat, then waiting for a SWAT team to arrive. In today’s world that is no longer the case.
“Now the response is, you and your team of how ever many officers you have, respond to shots being fired or whatever the incident is and you directly address the threat,” Parson said. “You don’t sit around and wait.”
The message of “Run. Hide. Fight.” was created by Ready Houston in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and first appeared in response to the 2012 mass shooting that occurred inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Despite this easy to remember, mantric recommendation, many students have never heard it before.
“I have never heard that statement before,” said kinesiology major, Brianna Magrath. “I would assume it is referring to how people react to an incident like a mass shooting.”
Biology major, Ari Hernan said that people’s first instincts when faced in active shooter situations, is to run and hide.
“I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to fight back,” Hernan said. “It wouldn’t be the natural instinct (to fight).”
University spokesperson Mary Kenny said in an email that there was a course in active shooter awareness offered to the University faculty last spring, but nothing else has been offered since.
“I wish that students at school could be taught what would be an appropriate response,” Hernan said. “It would be shocking, but it would make it more of a reality and would only help to educate people.”
Campus police have yearly training in active shooting response which takes place on University grounds. Parson said training where you work provides better advantages for officers if an attack occurred.
Hernan said that no one can truly be prepared for an attack on their campus, the only thing students can do is be as prepared as possible.
“I always try to be alert and aware of my surroundings,” Magrath said. “The reality is that crime is increasing daily and an incident can occur any time and anywhere. It is better to be realistic about it so you can be a little more prepared.”