What to do if you ever find yourself in a shooting.

At 10:08pm on Sunday night, a ‘lone wolf’ gunman named Stephen Paddock opened fire on crowds below from the 32nd-floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The 64-year-old, who had no prior criminal record, took aim at the Las Vegas village concert venue with a crowd of 22,000 people, approximately 400 metres away.

Armed with 20 weapons, including automatic and semi-automatic rifles, Paddock fired at concert-goers in a spree that is reported to have lasted between five and 15 minutes.

Paddock, a white male, killed at least 59 people and injured an estimated 527.

Listen: Journalist Amelia Lester and Mia Freedman gather to discuss the largest mass shooting in US history, and gun laws that desperately need to change. Post continues after audio. 

It has now been declared the deadliest shooting in modern US history.

In the United States, shootings have become part of the fabric of everyday life.  Las Vegas was the 273rd mass shooting of the year.

If you are ever caught in a shooting, here’s what experts say you should do.

“Running, if you have a clear exit, is the best choice,” says SEPTA Chief of Police Thomas Nestel, who has had more than 35 years experience in law enforcement.

“Try to get other people to flee with you, if they will do so immediately. If you can see a shooter, he can see you, so try to crouch and run as fast as you can so that you are not an easy target. Keep running until you reach a place of safety. Then call emergency services. If you are wounded, keep running as long as you can.”

Concert goers running from gun shots. Image via Getty.

"Hiding, if there’s no way out, can mean getting behind a tree, car or other large solid object that gets you both protected and out of sight. Most of these kinds of incidents only last for a few minutes. If possible, do what America’s elementary school students are trained to do and hide in a locked room – a dark, quiet and secure locked room.


"If there are others around, definitely bring them with you, but shush them. You’ll need absolute quiet: no talking, screaming, ringing or vibrating phones or even calling 911 [or 000]. If the door doesn’t lock securely, block it with furniture or file cabinets and pull the shade, if there’s glass."

Nestel insists that one should never emerge from a safe space until the danger has passed and safety finds you.

His advice echoes the 'run, tell, hide' warning system that has been released in light of recent terror events. They are as follows:


The first thing you should do, is look to escape and find a safe place.

Insist that those around you also leave, and abandon your personal belongings.

If running risks greater danger, stay where you are. But if not, determine the fastest and safest escape route.


If it is not possible to run, then hide as best you can. Make sure you cannot see the attacker.

Find cover from gunfire behind "substantial brickwork or heavy reinforced walls," and be mindful that gunshots can penetrate glass, wood and even metal.

Turn your phone to silent and ensure vibration is turned off.


Once you feel it is safe, call 000, or in the United States 911. If you're not sure what the emergency number is where you are, then call 112.


If you're in a position where you can't speak, just cough. If you can't make any noise whatsoever, then you will be put through to an automated system, where you'll be prompted to press '55'.

This will indicate to emergency services that you are in danger, and the police will be dispatched to your current address.

When police arrive, do not make any sudden movements and always have your hands in view. It can be difficult for officers to distinguish between attackers and civilians.

Concert-goers following the shooting. Image via Getty.

How to help

In times of crisis or danger, we often see cases of the 'bystander effect', defined by Joe Mulligan, the head of First Aid education at the British Red Cross, as a "well known phenomenon... where everyone does nothing because they assume someone else knows what to do."

"Don't fall for that," he says. "Call the emergency services and do something to help."

In addition, the first people on the scene are absolutely crucial to saving the lives of victims. The Hippocratic Post  has outlined exactly what we need to know in a piece titled "First aid in a terrorist age." The main points include, concentrate on the quiet ones, don't be afraid to show compassion, focus on small children first and details about how to treat burns, spinal injuries, and shrapnel wounds.


In Australia in 1996, a man named Martin Bryant murdered 35 people in what is now known as the Port Arthur Massacre. In direct response, Prime Minister John Howard introduced strict gun control laws.

For 21 years, Australia has not seen another mass shooting.

It is extremely unlikely that any Australian would find themselves in such a circumstance on home soil.

If only that was the case in the United States.