They were wrong.
I was part of that thinking, but have since faced reality:
the active shooter bag is significantly different from the bail out bag.
Once I learned the difference between the two pieces of emergency gear, I set each up for its own mission. Only then was I really ready for all of those life-shattering events that we are sometimes called on to handle.
In this article, I will explain what each of these two bags is and why each is needed. Once I’m done, I think you’ll agree that the two items are for different missions but can be used together to provide you with the tools you need to get home safely.
Time to get to it:
- Active Shooter Response Kit
- What is a bail out bag?
- The whole is greater than the parts?
- Last Thoughts
Active Shooter Response Kit
Active shooter kits are a one-trick pony. They are designed for you to decisively handle a spree killing in progress.
These kits will offer additional armor, ammunition and limited tools that will allow you to save lives in a specific type of incident.
They do not include everything you might need – just the basics.
In fact, the best active shooter bail out bag isn’t a bag at all. Rather, it is a plate carrier that is set up with pouches to put additional ammunition and bleeding control tools close at hand.
I encourage you to read my What Is an Active Shooter Bag article for additional information. I cover the topic in great detail and have assembled an active shooter bag equipment contents checklist to help you build your own.
What Is a Bail Out Bag?
If you’re like I was, you may be thinking
Ok, if that’s an active shooter kit, what’s a bail out bag?
A bail out bag is a kit of generalized gear, specific to your needs beyond responding to an in-progress murder spree.
Think of it like this. The active shooter kit is like a Marine Ka-Bar. It’s designed for one thing: winning a fight. A bail out bag is more like a Swiss Army knife; it can address a wide range of issues that may, or may not, require any use of force.
There is a wealth of incidents that will require you to be away from your patrol car for long periods of time. For these incidents, a bail out bag is a tool that you can carry with you and get you through the events.
Try this example:
A drive-by shooting happens in your jurisdiction and a witness gives you a valid tag # and vehicle description. A check of the DMV database yields the registered owner’s address with a physical description that matches your suspect. You and other officers respond to the house and set up a perimeter.
Your position requires you to stand in the summer sun for two or three hours before the suspect finally agrees to come out. Your bail out bag containing a bottle of water and a granola bar would help keep you refreshed, and maybe keep you from suffering from heat exhaustion.
But, if things go sideways, the extra tourniquet in the bag can come in handy if more than one person is shot.
If you think about it, there could be any number of incidents in which a bail out bag might be helpful: searching for a child lost in the woods, emergency operations in the wake of a natural disaster, or the unplanned surveillance of a remote location.
There is some overlap between a bail out gear bag and an active shooter kit. For example, I carry spare pistol and AR magazines in each. After all, you might not bring your active shooter kit on an incident, but still have things go bad on you. A little extra ammo seems prudent in both bags.
But, you’re not going to pack a boonie hat or a hand warmer into your active shooter kit. Conversely, you’re not going to carry a dozen 30-round AR mags in your bail out gear.
Sum of the Parts
Instead of being a cage fight, the matchup of active shooter bag vs bail out bag is a cooperative venture.
By having two different kits – one specialized and one general – the two things can be combined to offer flexibility greater than the sum of the parts.
Incidents are dynamic and can change. Ordered to hold a perimeter position, you will don your plate carrier that is set up for active shooter response. Then you sling your bail out bag and move into place.
If things stay peaceful, you will surely appreciate the water bottle in your bail out bag. Should the suspect decide to shoot it out, you are up-armored and have plenty of tools to address the situation.
When responding to a spree murder in progress, you need a quick kit that offers additional protection and increased firepower. That’s your plate carrier equipped with spare mags and a bleeding control kit.
For other unusual events, the bail out bag is your friend.
Combined, the two kits offer a substantial number of options in how you handle the call. Combined, the two things may form an ‘active shooter bail out bag’ of sorts. But, it is best if you think of them as two separate pieces of gear that can be combined if needed.