November 16, 2020

The Best Way to Fight a WPV/SV Perpetrator…if you can

It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason

Written by Robert D. Sollars

Workplace/school Violence (WPV/SV) scenarios can be nearly as traumatizing as the actual incident itself. Most people are taught and live by the mantra that they were instructed on decades ago…Run, Hide, or Fight.

As the title of this post suggests, I believe that the other mantra is a better fit for nearly all organizations, with very few exceptions. It’s more useful…if you can carry it out. It turns those 3 words on their proverbial head by turning those words around… much more controversial: Fight, hide, or run.

The best Defense is a Good Offense – Vince Lombardi

With all the information floating around an active shooter plan, what should you and your employees do? My answer is to take the attitude of Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA. on September 11, 2001. All they could do, was to fight. Fight the terrorists before they can cause further havoc.

It has been over-whelming, 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. Obviously, there are no guarantees on this but would you rather try to let others escape or be killed?

The next clear question is how do you fight or confront them? For some people, this will never be easy, if they can muster the courage to even think about it. Some people are understandably reluctant to face a weapon, of any kind. 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.

Those that DO HAVE the courage need to do what they 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, as one school district has done with food drives. (Wonder what happens when you hit someone in the head with a can of pickled beets?
  • Try to distract them, any way you can. If you are a ventriloquist…
  • Acting like a linebacker from your favorite football team, or rugby, hockey, soccer…

IF you decide to attack, it’s preferable to have more than just yourself to do the work. And in the case of an assault the more people you have to knock down and control them, the better your chances of survival as well as that of others around you. As for the hide or run scenario…

Running should always be open for someone who feels personally threatened by the perpetrator. If they are threatened and don’t remove themselves quickly…then the murderous intent of the perpetrator has no reason to abandon their quest of an execution. As with any predator…they won’t stop until they catch it.

One caveat when evacuating. Always, absolutely always, attempt to find a different way of escaping the facility. 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. If the perpetrator is an ex-employee, they 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. If there is no external lock on the door, or handle, then the perp will know someone is in that location, so…be careful with it.

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.

It takes law enforcement approx. 3 – 10 minutes to respond to an active shooter call. These same studies also show that the incidents are usually over within 2 to 3½ minutes. That means you can’t depend on law enforcement to stop the perpetrator. Most employers or security personnel especially assigned to your building will have no idea how to react to an active shooter or be poorly trained.

WPV/SV is a rising concern for all organizations, especially after the virus with the number of domestic violence cases (140% increase in DV deaths in Phoenix), teenaged suicide (an increase of 10% since the virus started) & drug overdoses (up 45% since the virus), and child abuse cases being reported. Whether that violence is because of a work dispute, bullying, mental issues, rebuffed romantic wishes, domestic violence, or something else we, as professionals, need to be prepared. That means developing an action plan, which by necessity, includes the fight, run, or hide scenario.

With more than 15 million incidents every year, even this year will see more than 10 million after the pandemic lets us return to normality, it’s clear that we need to do something. 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.

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.

Copyright 2020 Robert D. Sollars

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