How To Survive A Rapidly Evolving Situation In An Urban Environment

By Subodh / April 20, 2013

Unlike thousands of years ago, humans today for the most part are not prepared for violent confrontations. Humans in the past had the constant threat of wild predators and other humans. It was dangerous just walking to the stream to collect water, or foraging for food just a few feet from the shelter.

Humans went out prepared to do battle with man and beast. They were conditioned to deal with sudden events. It was not so much that they had a stronger instinct to survive, but that their reactions were learned because they had dealt with it before and were aware of the possibility at all times. In other words, they were trained by experience so they learned how to react. The average person today does not have that kind of training. You simply have not been trained to react to certain situations. However, there are threats out there, and you must be able to deal with them as they happen or you will not survive.

People have the ability to plan. You can assume certain things and prepare for them, for example, you know a hurricane is headed your way so you take measures to protect yourself. Other events happen without notice however, and these too must be dealt with. You must begin assuming things can happen so you can have a plan of action.

Violence in the Workplace

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Once an event happens somewhere people are on alert for several days or even weeks. They realize it can happen where they work and they are vigilant. After several days though people begin to go back to their normal routines, they forget, they relax. They convince themselves it can never happen to them.

Look Around Do You Really Know What Is Available

What is in your office that can be used to save your life? What is on the shop floor in the factory where you work that can be used to protect you. The best protection from an active shooter is becoming invisible (concealment) second to that is cover (protection from the bullets). Attacking the shooter may also be necessary but it is never recommended unless you are directly confronted. Lastly is escape from the area. Ensure you know where every exit is in your building. Study the emergency evacuation plan your building has posted and know the route you must take to find an exit regardless of where you are located. This will take some effort on your part to study your environment, and to make the necessary plans.

Once you hear shots, the floor is the safest place and under your desk is even better. Running into the hallway will only expose you to the shooter. However, if you cannot see the shooter and you have a clear path to escape take it. You see in the movies where people turn their desks over but in real life, this only alerts the shooter to your presence when they walk by your office. You must be concealed under your desk and you do not want anything out of place to attract the shooters attention.

Look around you, what is available that can be a weapon, is there a coffee pot full of hot coffee, the decanter itself, your office chair, pens, pencils, briefcases and staplers can be used. If you are confronted the first thing you need to do is distract the shooter by throwing something at their face. People will naturally try to deflect something that is thrown at their face. This may give you the time you need to escape. Some shooters may be wearing facial masks and liquid in their face and eyes will distort their vision. Kick a rolling chair at them, to distract them. You simply cannot stand there you have to move and any move is better than no move.

Shooters start out by targeting people who are standing up so the safest place is below their line of fire; you need to hit the floor and begin to move away from the shooter and make sure you are moving toward the exit. Forget about everything else and get down. If you have anything in your hands try to hold on to them so you can throw something at the shooter if you are confronted.

Situational Awareness

You must be able to use what is available in your immediate environment. Know what is around you that can be used to protect you.

Know where the exits are no matter where you are. Once you walk into any building scan for an escape route. Do not sit in the middle of the movie theater; find a seat near the back, or along the sides near the emergency exits. Once there is an active shooter, you may not be able to get to the floor if you are in the center of the theater because of other people around you. People will panic and begin running in all directions, which makes them a target. Play dead on the floor. Once the shooting has brought people down the shooter may begin looking for targets on the floor and if you have not escaped by now you must pretend to be dead.

Remember what cover and concealment is, in a public place, you may not be able to conceal yourself immediately so you must have cover. Note the location of reception desks in banks and other public buildings. If shots are fired, get behind or under the furniture for protection from flying rounds. If in a restaurant get behind the bar if they have one, server station or even under preparation tables in the kitchen. Avoid trapping yourself in a restroom. Your objectives are to cover yourself and move toward an exit. Keep in mind most mass shootings result in the shooter committing suicide, or being shot when they are confronted by police. It is rare for a shooter to follow someone once he or she has reached the exits to the outside.

Once Police Have Arrived

Police are not likely to know who the shooter is in the minutes after arriving. If you run from the building and know police are present have your hands in plain sight. They must know you are not the threat. Tell them what you know.