Oct. 6, 2017 -- The massacre this week in Las Vegas didn’t just start debates about gun control and get sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. It highlighted a terrible truth for Americans: We should know what to do if we have to deal with mass violence.

Predicting such random and horrific events is impossible. But public safety experts and medical officials say we can boost our odds of survival by what we do before, during, and after an attack.

Before the Event

Within seconds, festivalgoers who saw others being shot in Las Vegas became first responders, experts say. Being ready for such emergencies could help.

"Get trained in CPR and first aid," suggests Sheldon Marks, MD, a doctor in Tucson, AZ, who volunteers with the city's Police Department SWAT team and has trained others how to handle active shooter situations.

The first-aid class should teach how to apply tourniquets and to dress wounds, he says.

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Before going to events, have a plan in place with family and friends in case of emergency, Marks says. That should include where you will meet if something happens.

Always take basic safety equipment along, such as a flashlight, Marks says. Be sure your phone is fully charged, even though an emergency may take out reception or make the lines too jammed to get through.

"Memorize loved ones' phone numbers," suggests Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County, IL, Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management. You might have to use someone else’s phone, yours may get lost in the chaos, or the cell signals may be jammed.

"Wear appropriate shoes, or have them available," Marks says. You may have to escape quickly. "Flip-flops and high heels are not a good way to escape."

At the Event

When you arrive at a venue, check out the exits, Derevyanny says. "There is always more than one way to exit," she says. Figure out your Plan B when you arrive. It might be a window, not a door.

Once in a public place, pay close attention to gut feelings and that ''hair standing up on your neck'' phenomenon that suggests something is off, says Derevyanny. "If something seems off, or strange, report it to authorities."

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