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City of Houston's Active Shooter PSA Goes Viral

08/03/2012 -

If an active shooter ever storms into a public place you’re at, the City of Houston has a message for you: Run. Hide. Fight.

Using a $200,000 federal homeland security grant, the City of Houston has produced an active shooter public service announcement describing what citizens should do if they hear gunshots or witness an armed assailant shooting people. The release of the short-film was moved up after thetragic events in Aurora, Colorado, two weeks ago, when suspect James Holmes murdered 12 filmgoers and wounded 58 more at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.

Initially, Houston was going to roll out the video as part of a well-coordinated public safety campaign. The plan changed after Aurora. “The fact that the shooting was on everyone’s mind, we felt that it was important to get it out there as quickly as possible,” Richard Retz, who works for the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security and helped produce the video,told the Associated Press.

Just shy of six minutes long, the video shows a burly man wearing sunglasses and dressed in black walk into the reception area of a commercial building, calmly take a shotgun out of his backpack, turn, and blow away a security guard and a woman standing beside him. The shooter then whirls around and shoots a fleeing man in the back.

“If you were ever to find yourself in the middle of an active shooter event, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan,” the narrator intones. “The plan doesn't have to be complicated.”

The course of action during an active shooter is simple, the video states.

Run: If you can get out of the building, do so and call 9-11.

Hide: If you cannot escape the building without putting yourself in danger, then hide, remembering to turn off lights and ringers on cellphones. If your hiding spot has a door, lock it. If you can, barricade yourself into your hiding spot.

Fight: If that fails, and you’re staring down the barrel of a gun, then there’s only one option left: fight for your life.

“As a last resort, if your life is at risk, whether you’re alone, or working together as a group, fight. Act with aggression. Improvise weapons.Disarm him. And commit to taking the shooter down,” the video commands.

The video also points out that the first responders to arrive on the scene are not there to evacuate tenants or help the injured. They are there to go direct to the threat and neutralize it. Survivors or victims who see the strike team should keep their hands visible, remain calm, and avoid yelling or pointing.

The City of Houston drew on another successful public safety messaging campaign when developing the Run, Hide, Fight video.

“As children we’re all taught by the fire department to stop, drop and roll if you’re on fire,” Retz told the AP. “Unfortunately, with our society the way it is today, we felt that there had to be a new one.”

The video has gone viral since its posting on YouTube on July 23. The original has been played more than 260,000 times Other agencies inside the United States and abroad have asked Houston for its permission to use it, reports the AP.

♦ Thumbnail a screen shot from the video, "Run.Hide.Fight."