Custer’s Last Stand? Not Unless You Make It So
Written by Robert D. Sollars
The active shooter scenario can be a terrifying idea, as you can tell with all the hysterical screaming and trampling people to get away from even a car backfire or glass breaking. In many instances everywhere, it literally sounds like Custer’s Last Stand. Most people have been taught and live by the mantra that they were instructed in by the local/state & federal governments, more than a decade ago. While they are nearly identical, it’s important that there is a huge difference between these approaches. Run, Hide, or Fight.
The other one is much more useful and can potentially lead to less blood splatter on the walls, injury, trauma, or even death. It sounds a whole lot like The Alamo when I say it, but wait for the explanation. It turns those 3 words on their proverbial head. It says, turn the normalized way to deal with them into a much more controversial model:
Fight, hide, or run.
The idea I’m telling you that you should follow, read below for the caveats, is not like Custer’s Last Stand, but along the lines of the only survivor of that massacre…Comanche (the horse belonging to Capt. Miles Keough)), who was revered until he died and then stuffed and put on display). Now I’ll explain to you how my ‘revolutionary idea works to YOUR benefit;
With all the things floating around about an active shooter plan and what employees should do, what should YOU do? My answer is to take the attitude of Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, PA. on September 11, 2001. In their case, they could do nothing but fight to save lives in Washington D.C.
I firmly and unabashedly believe that this is the best course of action for someone menacing the organization with violence. Fight the intruder first before they can cause further havoc and chaos. It has been overwhelming, through innumerable scenarios – real life and training, proven that if you attack the perpetrator, remember they may not all have a firearm; you can overwhelm and stop them. And if you don’t stop them, you will slow them down enough to potentially allow others to escape.
The next obvious question is how do you fight or confront them? And for some people, it may be understandable to many, but this will never be easy. Some people are extremely reluctant to face a weapon…likening it to Custer’s Last Stand. Those people who feel that way still need to keep their faculties and use the final 2 points of these mantras… hide or run. Not only to save their lives but potentially the lives of others, whom they could be putting them in danger of death or injury.
For those that have the courage and intestinal fortitude, you need to do what you can to prevent any more chaos. You can do this by;
- Throwing things at the perpetrator. Anything you can use that is close at hand, including coffee cups, staplers, desk phones, or even canned goods. (Wonder what happens when you hit someone upside the head with a can of stewed turnips?
- Trying to distract them, any way you can. If you are a ventriloquist…
- Acting like a linebacker from your favorite football team
IF you decide to attack it’s always preferable to have more than just yourself, as in Shanksville, to do the work. And in the case of an assault the more people you have to knock down and hold the perpetrator the better your chances of keeping them from killing or injuring someone else, including yourself. As for the hide or run scenario…
Running is always an option for someone who may be fearful of the perpetrator and especially if that person believes that the shooter is specifically targeting them. If they don’t remove themselves quickly from the scene then the murderous intent of the perpetrator has no reason to abandon their quest.
A caveat here for evacuating the building. Always find a different way of getting out of the office. Don’t rely on specified and listed evacuation routes. If it is safe, as most alternate routes wouldn’t be in a fire, then take it. My thought on this is that the perpetrator, especially an ex-employee, will know those routes and if the attack doesn’t initially work…
As for hiding yourself before they find you, it’s just as simple. Your hidey hole needs to be as small as it can be for you, dark, and easily barricaded with a desk, file cabinet, or something similar if it doesn’t have a lock on it. The only issue with that would be, is that if there is no external lock on the door, or handle, then the perp will know someone is in there, so…
Likewise, if you have a serious respiratory health issue, you may not want to have anyone else with you as you hide. The reasoning here I think is fairly obvious. A dead giveaway is for you to be gasping for breath while hiding and potentially fatal for anyone with you.
Studies have shown that it takes law enforcement approx. 2 – 10 minutes to respond to an active shooter call. These same studies also show that the incidents are usually over within 1 to 2 minutes. This means, very succinctly, you can’t depend on law enforcement to stop the perpetrator before they get to you or anyone else, despite their best efforts. Most employers or security personnel specially assigned to your facility will have no idea how to react to an active shooter or be poorly trained in this type of crisis situation. Put them with a fire or weather disaster, they’ll be as cool as a mountain lake but active shooters…
WPV/SV is a growing concern for all organizations. Whether that violence is because of a work dispute, bullying, mental issues, rebuffed romantic wishes, domestic violence, or something else we as the ones assigned security duties need to be prepared. That means developing an action plan, which by necessity, includes the fight, run, or hide scenario.
With more than 16 million incidents every single year, and the incidence rising precipitously, it’s clear that we need to do something by planning, and training. And if we can’t turn our organizations into gulags, which aren’t very aesthetically pleasing or wanted, or throw out Constitutional rights we have to train and prepare for such an event, and the fight, hide, run model should be an integral part of that.
Then there is the idea, that I posted in an earlier blog, that people start screaming, yelling, and trampling others. Why? Because that’s what they’ve been taught to do. They have been taught by consultants and the government to scream hysterically at the possibility of an active shooter, ostensibly to warn others. Unfortunately, they follow that advice and end up either injuring themselves or someone else. It’s also not very intelligent either because no one knows why they’re scramming, and like a herd of sheep, they follow the herd and the leader screaming the loudest…whether that’s advisable or not. Should I even add that the hysteria will lead to panic and anxiety attacks?
Fight, run, & hide is a much better model in my opinion, and should be the main model taught and advocated by…everyone.
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