BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - When asked how they would react if someone came into a public place where they were and starting shooting, most people have a different answer.
"No one truly knows how they're going to react until that moment hits," said Biloxi Police Training Officer Carl Short, who leads active shooter response training.
Police departments across the country are trying to help people know what to do when their lives are on the line.
"If you've already thought about what you're going to do, and that plan is realistic and simple, you will act on that plan before you really even put much more thought into it," Short noted.
Short says the plan comes down to the following three principals:
1. Run. The first course of action is to always know where the exits are and get away. If a shooter is around an entrance, move the other way towards another exit quickly. Short says that's not just the case for active shooter situations - anytime you see anything out of the ordinary happening, it's a good idea to leave.
"If you're in a public place and a fist fight breaks out, Are you going to sit around and watch it or are you going to leave," said Short. "Because now a days, fist fights evolve into gun fights."
Looking back at Columbine, 13 people were killed and another 24 injured. Short says had more people been on the move inside the school, more lives could have been saved.
"The students sheltered in place and when the shooters broke into the cafeteria or the library, for example, there were just a lot of people sitting around that were available targets," said Short.
2. Hide. If running away isn't an option, find a place to hide that's as secure as possible and Look for concrete or solid walls to get behind.
"If we were in this office right here thinking that we were going to hold down in place, we would have a problem because you could shoot through these walls pretty easily because they're all dry wall," said Short.
3. Fight. As a last resort, take action against the shooter.
When faced with an act of desperation, Short recommends using anything available as a weapon.
"If the person comes in and you start throwing desk items at them, I've seen some pretty flared out desks that have some sizeable objects on them. Anything you can to distract the person from taking out violence against you," Short said.
On average, it takes police three minutes to respond to an active shooter scene, and those three minutes could be the difference between life and death. Short says the chances of survival increase if everyone has a disaster plan in place that has been discussed, and rehearsed.
"You keep it simple and everybody will remember it and when the time comes you'll be amazed at how people react. They'll react how they were trained," added Short.
It's training for something no one hopes for, but an active shooter situation is always a possibility. Being prepared is the key to survival.
"In your lifetime it might not ever happen, but we might walk out in the lobby on the way out and it could happen right there," said Short.
Biloxi police offers active shooter response training free of charge to anyone. If interested, contact the Biloxi Police Department.