HELENA – It is a sad fact of life in America that mass shootings are becoming all too common.

So much so that law officers now teach classes on how we can respond to an armed intruder.

MHP Sergeant Jay Nelson is one such instructor and he says the basic things to remember in such a situation are, “Run, Lock, Fight.”

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When it comes to surviving an active shooter attack, we need to think the unthinkable.

“First and foremost is your individual mind-set,” says Nelson.

“We have to live our lives a little bit different. We have to recognize when we go into a facility, where are the exits. We have to recognize what could we use as a weapon?”

Nelson says the first thing he teaches when it comes to such incidents, “See Something, Say Something.”

There can be warning signs prior to an active shooter incident and it’s important to know the signs.

“If it doesn’t seem right, tell someone,” says Nelson. “Somebody that’s posting things, that’s saying things. Somebody that’s not acting appropriate.”

If you do encounter an armed attacker, Nelsons says see if you can safely get away from the threat.

“If we have the opportunity to run and if we know it’s safe, we need to keep running as far as we can and obviously try to run in a location where you have something between you and the shooter or the intruder.”

If escape isn’t an option, find a way to shelter in place by getting some sort of substantial object between you and the attacker.

“Does your door swing in, does it swing out. How can we enhance the locking mechanism of that door if it has a lock. Barricading the door, wrapping cords around the door. Anything to prevent that door from opening if you can’t run.”

As a last resort, you can try to attack the attacker.

“Look for improvised weapons…for instance…fire extinguishers are an excellent one, or a large book. Anything that you can use to take that person out,” says Nelson.

“We might not want to harm somebody…that might be in our nature – but it comes down to to being a statistic or being a survivor.’

Nelson says surviving to this type of threat involves not living in fear, but finding empowerment.

“Truly, are you going to do something, should that intruder come through the door?”

Some resources include:

Armed Intruder and Robbery Response training
Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter booklet
School Safety: Best Practices for Active Shooter or Armed Intruder Protocols