I usually avoid thinking about the rising number of crazy people attacking random strangers in public places. I prefer to think that it will never happen to me or my family. But when I was offered the chance to go and hear a trained law enforcement officer speak on the topic at our homeschool co-op orientation, I decided to go. The last attack was just too close to home. I sat down to listen to the talk with an open mind, but really not expecting to learn much. But, I did learn and I want to share it because I know a lot of people are like me, head in the sand, fingers in ears, la la la la, about the issue.
The officer showed us a movie that included a reenactment of a shooter. The scenes including people in an office building screaming and running and being shot by a madman and that made me feel triggered and I wasn’t sure I could watch the last scene where the people in the office had to prepare to fight the shooter, but I did. I used self-talk to get through it and I was okay when the movie was over. These issues are not pleasant to think about and can cause much anxiety, but I think the cop was right in that we will be able to respond more quickly if we are mentally prepared. He said that these presentations are available free in most communities. Just ask.
Here are the main take-aways.
- You must think about this and make a plan before it happens in order to be able to respond quickly.
- You must prepare yourself mentally by visualizing the experience and if possible, practicing your plan.
- You must ask yourself what it is that will give you enough motivation to stay calm and really fight to save yourself and remember that. It will probably be that you want to stay alive, but why? For your loved ones?
- Learn the three possible responses and be ready to act quickly depending on which one is safest.
- The three possible responses are RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.
- If you can, RUN. If you hear gunshots, but don’t see the shooter, RUN away from the sound as fast as you can,and if possible bring others with you.
- If the sound is too close or you’re not sure which direction it’s coming from and you feel that you can safely hide, then do it. If possible, LOCK DOORS. COVER WINDOWS WITH SOMETHING. TURN OFF LIGHTS. BE VERY QUIET. BARRICADE THE DOOR. Tie a belt around the automatic door closer if possible. Get away from the doors . Get behind hard things to protect from bullets coming through walls.
- If the shooter is close or coming your way, look around for something HEAVY or SHARP or anything you can throw at him( coffee, chair, vase) , stab him with (pen), spray at him ( fire extinguisher, hose). Stand beside the door if he can’t see you there and try to get a jump on him if possible. Be prepared to FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE. Poke him in the eyes, whatever. You must be mentally able to try to hurt him as bad as you can.
- Do not attempt to talk the shooter out of his actions. He is not there to talk.
- BE CALM AND QUIET. If a door is locked, he is likely to move on to the next door. NO SCREAMING. If someone is being loud, calm them with touch and by looking into their eyes and talking quietly.
- Help the ones who are not able to respond.
Here are some other points to remember that may be even more helpful.
- When you go to a public place, NOTE THE EXITS. It only takes a few seconds to look around.
- At work, such as in an office building, KNOW THE EXITS and FLOOR PLAN.
- Your building should have a floor plan printed out and posted by the door for first responders.
- If you see a suspicious-acting person, call the police and report it and let them find out the details. A person with many guns was reported and caught in Austin last week in a city park.
- Be aware of your surroundings when you are shopping or walking in public places. Keep one headphone out and the sound low and no staring at your phone while walking.
- Do not be paranoid, just alert and cautious. Sadly, this is the world we now live in.
And lastly, a few things about the police response.
- DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU IMMEDIATELY.
- Come out of the building with your hands empty and raised.
- You could be detained, handcuffed, interviewed even if you are not the shooter, but you will be released.
- The first responders are there primarily to stop the shooter from killing anyone else. They will not stop to give aid to victims. Wait for other responders.
Lastly, I would like to add my two cents. A lot of these incidents are stopped quickly when someone on the scene is armed, whether a security person or citizen. Let’s try to do more of that. Defend yourself.