Think­ing ahead

The Weekly Vista - - News - ROBERT A. BOX Robert Box is the for­mer chap­lain for the Bella Vista Po­lice Depart­ment and is cur­rently the Fire Depart­ment chap­lain. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

A few years ago, an ac­tive shooter burst into a crowded movie the­ater in Colorado and be­gan to shoot peo­ple ran­domly. It prompted me to think se­ri­ously about what to do when­ever there is an ac­tive shooter, and I be­gan a con­ver­sa­tion with the mem­bers of my fam­ily about what to do. Since that time, there have been a num­ber of classes taught about what to do if you are in­volved with an ac­tive shooter. Some of the de­scrip­tions vary, but they are all ba­si­cally the same.

The first thing a per­son should do if he or she is present when an ac­tive shooter (e.g. some­one who just starts shoot­ing with the in­tent to kill peo­ple) be­comes in­volved is to run as fast as you can to get away. Yes, this as­sumes that there is both an egress for you to run to and some­place to go to get away. How­ever, of­ten a per­son is not in the di­rect line of fire for the shooter, and run­ning is the first op­tion for safety.

How­ever, if run­ning away is not an op­tion, the sec­ond thing a per­son should do is find a place to hide. This may seem ob­vi­ous, but too many times po­ten­tial vic­tims be­come so scared they just run around in front of an ac­tive shooter while he kills them. Any­one who is in the pub­lic eye should have a se­lected place to hide should an ac­tive shooter show up. There are many sug­ges­tions. One of the safest places I can think of in a bank is in­side the vault. Or, if you are a restau­rant worker, hid­ing un­der a table, in a store room, or even in the walk-in freezer are good ideas. If you are in a mall, al­ways be think­ing about where you could ei­ther run or hide if some­one starts shoot­ing. Or, as ref­er­enced ear­lier, if you are in a the­ater, get­ting on the floor un­der the seats and play­ing dead might be a good idea if you can’t run out the exit. Be pre­pared and think about your op­tions be­fore­hand. In­stead of run­ning, per­haps some of the vic­tims in Las Ve­gas could have hidden un­der cars and trucks.

Thirdly, there are those sit­u­a­tions where it is not pos­si­ble to ei­ther run or hide. In those sit­u­a­tions, a per­son should use what­ever is handy to fight as hard as he or she can. It is an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, but in those sit­u­a­tions, you are lit­er­ally fight­ing for your life and no one should give in with­out a fight. Of­ten, there are ob­jects nearby that may be used as a weapon in your fight, but what­ever you do, fight as hard as you can. Your life de­pends upon it.

Emer­gency re­sponse to an ac­tive shooter by law en­force­ment and med­i­cal personnel also has changed as peo­ple have eval­u­ated past events. Se­cu­rity guards no longer wait for backup to at­tempt to en­gage an ac­tive shooter. Wait­ing at a school for other law en­force­ment personnel to ar­rive has caused the deaths of nu­mer­ous peo­ple who might have been saved. All law en­force­ment personnel must im­me­di­ately do what they can to pro­tect lives, even if it means risk­ing their own lives.

One of the most se­ri­ous prob­lems, when an ac­tive shooter shows up, in­volves how to get help for those who are be­ing wounded. Nor­mally, law en­force­ment personnel go in first in or­der to se­cure the area and to make sure it is safe; then, med­i­cal personnel may ar­rive to take care of those who have been in­jured. How­ever, too of­ten it takes too long for law en­force­ment personnel to se­cure the area and peo­ple die when they could have been saved.

Lynh Bui, a re­porter for The Wash­ing­ton Post (Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 6, 2017) noted that the law en­force­ment personnel and the med­i­cal personnel (which also in­cludes fire­fight­ers) worked to­gether dur­ing the mas­sacre at LasVe­gas re­cently. Since they had trained to­gether, they each knew what to do. Six­teen task forces raced into the con­cert venue the night gunman Stephen Pad­dock opened fire upon the crowd. Each task force in­cluded four to six po­lice of­fi­cers, who cre­ated a perime­ter around three paramedics who treated the wounded and trans­ported them to am­bu­lances un­der the safety the of­fi­cers pro­vided. Ob­vi­ously, this was a very dif­fi­cult task, since the wounded and dead were in a very large area, but there were many peo­ple’s lives saved by the heroic ef­forts of the po­lice and med­i­cal de­part­ments work­ing to­gether un­der fire.

Our coun­try is still the safest in the world, but there are al­ways those cir­cum­stances where there is an im­mi­nent dan­ger to one’s life. It is im­per­a­tive that all of us be think­ing ahead about what to do when­ever an ac­tive shooter shows up. Think­ing de­fen­sively is not rocket sci­ence, but it does save lives.

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