Sufia Alam
Campus Editor

According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly half of those who commit or attempt to carry out a homicide at a school usually present some type of warning sign, such as telling others about their plan or leaving a note before the event.   

With smart planning and correct education, if a school shooting ever took place at UAB, students and faculty would have a strong chance of surviving, according to UAB Police Department Capt. Amy Schreiner. 

“Police officers often miss their targets 70 to 80 percent of the time in dynamic events,” Schreiner said. “If this is a stat for police officers, think about the chances of someone who isn’t in their right state of mind and never has had any training.”  

The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as someone with a gun, engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined or populated place. 

In the past, the mentality regarding surviving a school shooting has been “run or hide.” However, according to new data, people who act not only have a higher probability of living, but also tend to recover mentally and emotionally quicker than people who choose to cave into the situation, according to research published in the Huffington Post. 

Schreiner advises the best step students can do is prepare in advance. 

“Know your area,” Schreiner said. “What buildings you have class in, how can you get in and out of that building without taking your elevator. If it’s a building with multiple floors then knowing where the stairs are, where the windows are, is the best way to go. “  

Along with knowing the basic infrastructure of a building, it is also important to be aware of what materials are between the student and the shooter.  

“Some building like the Hill Student Center or Heritage have a ton of glass walls,” Schreiner said. “Others, may all be wood or have small portions of the door or wall that are made up of glass.”   

Schreiner advices students to act as quickly as possible once they have identified their surroundings.  

“Creating a barricade between yourself and the shooter is always a good idea,” Schreiner said. “Use whatever you have around you to your advantage. Trash bins, computer monitors, whatever you can pile up. If your office or classroom is made entirely of glass walls, try to go to the back offices, close the door and make it seem as if no one’s there the best you can.”  

Another strategy that increases your chances of survival, according to The New York Times, is creating what-if scenarios in your head. 

“Think about what you would do if someone came into your classroom, into the dining hall, library, wherever you are,” Schreiner said. “Always have preplanned scenarios for every possible location.”  

In the worst possible situation, if the student is forced into hand-to-hand combat, any weapon available will work. Common items such as pencils, a ruler, a book, a cellphone will work as long as it can bludgeon or jab the shooter. 

 “Go for the soft spots,” Schreiner said. “If one person has put themselves on top of the shooter, create a swarm, and everyone else can jump on top of the shooter as well. Make sure to kick the gun out of the way so [they] can’t get to it anymore.”  

However, if it’s possible to escape the building, Schreiner said under no circumstances should anyone try to confront the perpetrator. The goal should be to get out as quickly and as far away as possible.  

"It honestly depends on where I think the shooter is," said Laura Hitchcock, a junior in mechanical engineering. "If he's nearby, I feel like I would jump on him. If he was far away, my priority would be to get as far away as possible."   

However, Schreiner also said mass evacuating an entire campus is never a good idea.  

“This might prevent help from arriving as well as sometimes creating a huge crowd being formed giving the perpetrator even more targets,” Schreiner said. “On that note, it is also a good idea not to pull the fire alarm. That’s only helping the shooter.”  

Schreiner noted that because most of UAB’s real estate goes up, it will generally be hard to pinpoint where the shooters is coming from and pulling the fire alarm only makes it harder to hear. 

A fire alarm was pulled the day 19-year-old Nicholas Cruz bombarded Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 students and teachers dead, according to TIME magazine. 

The final step, once help arrives, is to make sure all individuals in the area put their hands up and spread their fingers to allow the police officers to deduce who are the possible suspects. 

“Remember, at this point, the police officers may not know who is or isn’t the suspect,” Schreiner said. “That’s why it is also important that even if you have managed to take the shooter down, to not have the gun in your hand under any circumstances. You may put your life at risk by doing so.”  

Schreiner said the best thing to do is to put the gun on the ground and put a trash can on top of it creating a barricade against that as well. 

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