Teaching Better Tactics

Turning on the television Saturday broke my heart. Another Active Killer. This time at a Wal-Mart while families were doing their back to school shopping. While my heart aches for those who lost loved ones, that wasn’t the moment that brought tears to my eyes. It was the cell phone video of a guy hiding under a table. The person behind him was also lying flat under a table, recording the sounds of gunfire, thankful the killer was not heading in their direction. How is it that 20 years after Columbine our go-to moves are still to stop and dial 911, run in panic toward the main exit, or hide under a table, hoping not to be found?  

Let’s take those top three choices and break them down into something better. First, dialing 911. While this is important, it should not be the first thing you do if you hear gunfire. Calling the police does not put a cloak of protection around you. It will not keep you safe until police arrive. With the El Paso event, it took police six minutes to arrive and another 20 to isolate and apprehend the killer. While a six-minute response time is EXCELLENT, what are you doing for those six minutes to protect yourself until police arrive? We have deceived ourselves into thinking, “If anything happens, I will just dial 911, and they will protect me.” Have a plan to protect yourself until help arrives. Call 911 once you have put your safety plan in place. Odds are in your favor that someone just outside the incident has already alerted authorities.

It is estimated that between one thousand and three thousand people were in the El Paso Wal-Mart that morning. Just imagine the chaos and fear as a wave of terrified people all rushed for the main exits. Is that your plan, too? Are you going to follow the herd and hope for the best? When you go into any building, locate an alternate exit or two. This way you have more options for escape. Choose the one that takes you away from violence. This is also valuable information to have if there is a fire. 

Finally, let’s talk about the guys hiding under the table. This is the reaction that terrifies me most. Their first instinct to get low was excellent. Smaller targets are harder to hit. But to stay there? What are they going to do if the killer is heading their way? Most victims in mass casualty events are murdered from a distance of two feet or less. Hiding is a last, last, last option. Once you realize you cannot escape, you need to make a plan to protect yourself. Take ownership of your situation. Did you want to be in an Active Killer event? Of course not, but now that you are there, your safety is up to you. Find a weapon and get behind something that can stop bullets. Find a room where you can lock the door. Make it hard for the killer to get to you. Help is on the way. The important thing is to do something, not wait for something to be done to you. 

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