Fight, flight or freeze … what will you do? Your initial reaction during the first moments of an “active killer” situation may be the difference between life and death for you, your family, and those around you.
Traditionally, civilians have been told to deal with these incidents through “target hardening” and sheltering in place. Historically, instructors taught students to get indoors and lock down an area that was difficult to access.
This is partly true, a harder target is better; however, as recent history teaches us, if the crazies want to get past the locked door/window they will.
As human beings, we all have the primal “fight, flight or freeze” reactions when it comes to danger. By practicing the traditional “shelter in place” model for many years, we have essentially taken away our “fight and flight” instincts leaving most people only with “freeze.”
The “new school” mindset that is being adopted by many organizations around the nation: You are not a victim, do whatever you need to do to survive. The two main models being taught are the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) model and the Run, Hide, Fight model.
The ALICE model works as follows:
Alert everyone in the area that an incident is occurring. This can be done by security staff, office staff, administrators or anyone who can get to a communication device. Use the PA, radios, overhead, alarm system or phone systems to alert everyone in the area. Then call 911 to summon emergency personnel.
Lockdown secure areas as soon as the alert is sounded. This method of lockdown differs from the traditional method in that, in addition to locking the doors, is the room is actively barricaded by stacking desks, tables, cabinets and chairs to block entry through the doors and windows.
Inform those involved of the perpetrator or perpetrators’’ actions and location(s). Preferably this is done by someone who has camera access or a view of what is happening. This is accomplished by whatever communication means the location has. Inform is important because it enables potential victims to evade the perpetrators.
Counter any perpetrators who get past the locked doors, windows and barricades. Do whatever has to be done to live. This is a life and death situation and to live you may have to fight. The perpetrator may kill one or two of the people in the room but it is unlikely he can kill everyone before he is subdued.
Evacuate If you can safely evacuate, do so as quickly as possible!
The Run, Hide, Fight model, current taught by the FBI, works as follows:
Run to a safe place as soon as you are aware that an incident is taking place. Keep running, get away as fast as possible. Encourage others to run as well but if they don’t come with you, get away without them. Once away and safe, call 911.
Hide in a safe place if you are unable to run. Lock the doors, turn off the lights, shelter in place. This is more than just huddle in the corner. Conceal yourself, pile up things and hide behind them.
Fight as a last resort. Attempt to take down the perpetrator(s). Use whatever improvised weapons you can. Remember this is a life and death situation, to live you will need to defeat your attacker.
So how do you prepare yourself for this kind of chaos?
Mental preparation: Try thinking about worst case scenarios and what resources you have on you and around you. Such as, “What would I do if_______ happened? Where would I go if the guy at the super market began shooting people? What could be used as cover or concealment? What improvised weapons are around me?”
Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Keep your head on a swivel, look around often. Trust your gut. If something or someone looks strange or makes the hair on your neck stand up, get out of there.
These skills do not come naturally to most people and should be practiced to improve your awareness and get you into a more vigilant state of mind.
Physical preparation: If you can’t run a few blocks, it’s going to be hard to save yourself or others. If you have never thrown a punch or wrestled with someone, fighting for your life may prove difficult. Physical fitness is a no-brainer, if it isn’t one of your priorities, it should be.
I also highly recommend getting a concealed carry license for a firearm. Go get training on how to use your firearm. There is no such thing as overtraining when it comes to weapons skills. The advantage of being armed in a mass casualty incident is enormous. These incidents tend to last an average of about two minutes. History has shown us that many mass shooters take their own lives upon meeting armed resistance. If you have the means and training, you could possibly save an untold number of lives by putting up armed resistance.
We are not sheep. As humans, no matter how deeply buried, we all have the primal instinct to survive and overcome danger. You do not have to cower in the corner and wait to die. Take your life into your own hands. Do whatever you need to do to live. Be ready, both mentally and physically, to act when action is necessary. Your ability to act may save your life and the lives of others.