Police Emergency Alert
The RCMP in British Columbia can activate localized or provincial-wide emergency alerts using the EMBC Alert Ready Public Alerting system when specific criteria have been established. In additional to traditional and social media public communication efforts, the BC RCMP will consider using the system to generate a text message to cellular phones within a specified geographic area to alert the public to an event and provide direction on how they can stay safe.
The criteria is:
There is a reasonable belief that there is an active threat that presents a significant risk of serious harm to members of the general public.
Sufficient information is available regarding the threat and the geographic area involved to develop clear direction to the public on what to do to stay safe.
The threat situation is unpredictable, evolving quickly and presents a major challenge to initial police response capacity regarding protection, containment and interdiction.
View more information about the British Columbia Emergency Alerting System.
What you need to know when an Emergency Alert is issued by the RCMP in B.C.
A Police Emergency Alert will be considered for confirmed events such as an active shooter(s), mass attack in a crowded or public space, or an identified public threat.
Some things to keep in mind if police issue an emergency alert.
How to respond when an active shooter is in your vicinity
Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation.
If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:
- Have an escape route and plan in mind
- Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
- Leave your belongings behind
- Help others escape, if possible
- Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
- Keep your hands visible
- Follow the instructions of any police officers
- Do not attempt to move wounded people
- Call 911 when you are safe
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.
Your hiding place should:
- Be out of the active shooter’s view
- Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
- Lock the door
- Blockade the door with heavy furniture
If the active shooter is nearby:
- Lock the door
- Silence your cell phone and/or electronic devices
- Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
- Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
- Remain quiet
If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
- Remain calm
- Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location
- If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
Take action against the active shooter.
As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:
- Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
- Throwing items and improvising weapons
- Committing to your actions
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How to respond when there is a mass attack in your vicinity
While the threat of mass attacks in crowded or public spaces is rare in British Columbia, if an attack occurs here are some steps that can be taken to protect yourself and help others.
What are Mass Attacks?
Mass attacks can be situations in which an assailant(s) use firearms, vehicles, explosives or other methods to cause mass casualties,
Protect Yourself Against a Mass Attack
- Stay alert.
- Seek safety.
- Cover and hide.
- Defend yourself.
- Help the wounded.
Be Alert to Your Surroundings
Observe what is going on around you and avoid distractions such as texting, listening to headphones or being on your cell phone.
Have an Exit Plan
Identify exits and areas to hide under cover wherever you go, including at work, school and special events.
Plan to Seek Cover for Protection
Map out places to seek cover. Place a barrier between yourself and the threat using solid objects, walls and locked doors as protection.
How to Survive During the Attack
- Pay attention to what is happening around you so that you can react quickly to attacks.
Run to Safety
- If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the building or area regardless of whether others agree to follow.
Cover and Hide
- If evacuation is not possible find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and if possible, put a solid barrier between yourself and the threat.
- Keep silent.
Defend, Disrupt, Fight
- As a last resort, when you can’t run or cover, attempt to disrupt the attack or disable the attacker.
- Be aggressive and commit to your actions.
Help the Wounded
- Take care of yourself first and then, if you are able, help the wounded get to safety and provide immediate care.
- While you wait for first responders to arrive, provide first aid. Apply direct pressure to wounded areas and use tourniquets if you have been trained to do so.
- Turn wounded people onto their sides if they are unconscious and keep them warm.
When Law Enforcement Arrives
- Remain calm and follow instructions.
- Keep hands visible and empty.
- Report to designated areas to provide information and get help.
- Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident and they may have to pass injured along the way.
- Listen to law enforcement’s messages for information about the situation. Share updates with family and friends.
Consider Seeking Professional Help
- Be mindful of your health. If needed, seek help for you and your family to cope with the trauma.
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How to respond when law enforcement arrives
Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
- Officers usually arrive individually or in teams
- Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, and other tactical equipment
- Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
- Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
- Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety
How to react when law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions
- Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
- Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
- Keep hands visible at all times
- Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety
- Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operator:
- Location of the active shooter
- Number of shooters, if more than one
- Physical description of shooter/s
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
- Number of potential victims at the location
The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.
Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.
See it. Hear it. Report it.
Are you aware of something that may pose a threat to national security? An explosive device, a cyber attack, espionage, or a simple bank transaction that funds terrorism? You can report information about signs of terrorist-planning activities or radicalization to violence to the RCMP's National Security Information Network.
More information on National Security.
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