Terrorism-Mass shootings – What you NEED to do!
As we have seen in recent months, our world is now plagued with those who want to terrorize us with mass shootings. Unfortunately, this trend will most likely continue. Why? Actually, there are a couple of reasons.
First, studies are now showing that the mass media and national news coverage of these shootings are actually encouraging other mentally ill people to follow suit with their own mass shootings.
And secondly, because these attacks are extremely easy to organize by terror groups such as ISIS (or “Daesh” as they HATE to be called). They are also relatively cheap to fund.
The terror attacks of 9/11 were well orchestrated and funded. They took months of planning and training, and those involved always ran the risk of being caught. But these mass shootings require no where near as much sophistication, funding, or planning. One or two religious extremists, a few firearms and easy to make pipe bombs, and a large gathering of people is all it takes.
One or two highly motivated religious extremists (or mentally ill) can do a tremendous amount of damage, as we have seen recently. And so you maybe wondering, “What can I do to protect me and my family?” Well, here is some tips and information to help you with not just protecting your family should you find yourself in these types of terror attacks.
Be Alert and Aware
There are 4 different levels of awareness. Many may have already heard this, but if not they are as follows:
- Condition Green – relaxed and unaware
- Condition Yellow – relaxed, but aware and vigilant
- Condition Orange – alert, possible threat identified
- Condition Red – threat verified, call for action
Unfortunately, too many people go throughout their day in Condition Green. They are plugged into their smart phones, head phones on, and reading through their social media. They are rushing to get home, thinking about what is for dinner instead of what is happening around them. This means they are oblivious to what is going on around them.
With a complete lack of situational awareness, these folks are usually the first ones to be caught up in the ensuing tragedy and chaos. Don’t let this be you!
As a police officer, I am typically in condition Yellow. Yes, I still text on my phone, or check the latest sports scores. But I am always aware of my surroundings. I am noticing the people in my area. I take note of what are they doing and how are they acting.
Are they acting nervous, or just seem “a bit off?” Are they avoiding eye contact? Do they seem out of place? Are they maybe overdressed? (Heavy, bulky clothing in the summer for example). Are they fidgety or look like they maybe trying to hide something? (Like a gun.)
Are there unusual sounds? A slight ticking maybe? Mechanical buzzing? A popping noise in the background? Time and again I watched interviews with survivors from the terror attack in Paris who said that they thought that someone was “just popping fire crackers”. For Americans, if it isn’t the first part of July, something that sounds like fireworks should immediately get your attention!
What about odors? Are there faint chemical odors? A slight burning odor?
I pay attention to the vehicles on the road. Are they overloaded? Are they swerving? Maybe even slightly?
You would be surprised with how much you actually miss when you are focused solely on one thing, such as an Iphone.
Essentially, in condition Yellow you are relaxed, but your head is up and you are alert. This means you are less likely to be surprised, and less likely to be caught off guard. this also means you are less likely to be a victim.
Over time, you can train yourself to remain in condition Yellow. I actually made a game of it. In a crowded area, I would see how many people I could spot that were in condition Green, and who might be in condition Yellow.
In condition Yellow, I make mental notes about exits, always. When in public areas, I am always noting where the exits are, and how they are in relationship to where I parked. In areas I am new to, I try to find a building map and study it for a moment or two.
I also note where the security and information desks/kiosks are as well.
When I fly commercially, I count the rows from my seat to the closest exit. When I stay in a hotel, I count the doors from my room to an exit. Why? Because if it is suddenly dark (loss of electricity) or my vision is obscured (smoke for example) I can physically feel my way to an exit.
At many grocery stores and shopping malls the parking aisles are numbered. So make a note of what the aisle number is. Did you park beside a tall street lamp like I recommend in previous articles?
In condition Orange, you have been alerted to a potential threat or problem. That does not mean it’s a threat, but your situational awareness is heightened and now on alert. You are now more closely focused on what drew your attention.
For example, you notice three or four people loitering around the door to a mall or building. Or you notice a van coming to a sudden halt by the entrance to the department store. It could a single guy, but he’s wearing a long jacket in June. Each of these examples may not be a threat, but they certainly bear watching and further observation.
Keep in mind that while these events are drawing your further scrutiny, you cannot lose focus of your surroundings. As we have seen in attacks such as Columbine, Paris, and San Bernardino, there was more than one attacker.
During condition Orange is when being aware of your surroundings becomes key. Not only should you be determining potential threats and hazards, but also possible ways to deter, delay, or defend against them. Knowing where the exits are for a hasty retreat can save you precious seconds, and in these situations, seconds count!
If those three or four people loitering by the door were simply waiting on a ride, or that van that stopped suddenly was braking for a loose dog, you realize that there is a rational, logical reason for the event/person that caught your attention. So you go back to condition Yellow.
Please note that there is a difference between vigilance and being paranoid. People simply cannot remain in condition Orange for long periods of time. It is physically and emotionally taxing! Condition Orange is meant to quickly and accurately identify, assess, and determine if a threat exists and how to avoid it if it is real.
But what if that threat becomes real? Now, you are in condition Red!
This is where the threat is likely or about to occur, or is already occurring. Hopefully in condition Yellow and Orange, you were already aware of your surroundings, possible escape routes, and have formulated some quick plans in your mind of what you will do if you find yourself in harm’s way.
This is why you don’t want to be in condition Green. Being in condition yellow/orange might give you a few seconds notice of an impending emergency. Without any sort of prior planning or awareness, you find yourself in a bad situation and will be unsure of what to do or where to go. This is NO BUENO! Seconds count!
If you find yourself in a mass shooting event, here is some of what I wrote on my friend Graywolf’s site about what you need to do.
- Stay low. Most firearms in these situations are being fired from chest/hip height. So duck, staying as low as you can while being able to move out of the area as quickly and safely as possible
- You want to get out of the area as quickly as possible. But keep in mind that movement naturally attracts the eye. Try to remain out of the shooter’s line of sight, and don’t move if it is not safe to do so.
- Put not only distance, but also objects between you and the shooter. These objects may not stop bullets, but usually the shooter will aim for what they see. Objects between you and the shooter will help to obscure their view. Use tables, chairs, building columns, etc to your advantage.
- If you are able to go through doors, do so. And lock or barricade them if possible. But try not to lock yourself into a room. Look for another way out such as a window or stair well.
- If you are inside a building, get outside as quickly as possible. This is preferable to locking yourself in a room. If you absolutely cannot get outside, then barricade yourself in and remain hidden.
- Try to remain quiet. Turn the volume on your cell phone down. Keep calm and try not to scream or cry.
If the unthinkable happens and your life is in imminent danger, then “Unleash Hell”! Throw objects, use anything as a weapon, kick, bite, gouge eyes, scream, yell. Do whatever you can to disrupt the shooter. You are fighting for your life!
Ultimately, YOU are responsible for your safety and security. Yes, the police are there to protect and serve. But they cannot be everywhere at once. And as a result, more and more police/sheriff officials are encouraging law abiding citizens to arm themselves, train with their firearms, and carry concealed. Here are a few news links about police officials encouraging citizens to be armed and vigilant.
If it is legal to do so in your area, I strongly encourage you to get a carry conceal permit and make your firearm apart of your everyday carry (EDC). And I strongly encourage you to train with those firearms regularly. I cannot stress this enough. Putting 25 rounds through your pistol the first time you buy it is not enough. You must practice and train consistently!
I have always said that avoiding conflict is your primary objective; your firearms are the back up plan. Unfortunately, terrorists and the mentally ill who commit these horrific acts cannot be reasoned with, and you may find yourself having to go with your “back up plan”. If you are with your family during a mass shooting, your NUMBER ONE PRIORITY still must be getting them to safety and out of harms way.
But having the ability to defend yourself and your family if you find yourself in this situation could be the difference between life and death!
Stay safe out there!
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