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Guns: Surviving the Unexpected

Submitted by on November 14, 2012 – 6:12 pm

Norway.Aurora.Littleton. You know these names because all three are locations that have experienced mass shootings and casualties.

What makes these people kill men, women and children? It’s a combination of emotional instability, frustration and fanatics. Unfortunately, shooters are rarely diagnosed in advance. Because of this, our problem is not in identifying them, but in preparing ourselves for such a horrific and traumatic event should it ever occur.

Dealing with Active Shooters

Of the initial assault, many victims have stated, “I didn’t think it was real.” Real or not, it doesn’t matter, react anyway. This is not the time for taking things lightly.

Get your family out, take cover or start to move to cover. If it’s just firecrackers or a loud backfire from a truck, it will have been good practice.

Gather Information—Suddenly, you hear gunfire. Gather information immediately. Everything you see and hear is important.

The following information is important to the police and your survival:

»» Where is the gunfire coming from?

»» Is there a direction of travel (to you or away from you)?

»» How close are they to you?

»» How many shots are being fired?

»» How far away or how close is the shooter(s)?

»» Can you tell how many shooters there are?

»» What kind of firearms or weapons are the shooter(s) using?

»» Are the shots the same sound shotgun, handgun, rifle?

»» Is it rapid fire or single fire?

»» Who is the shooter targeting?

Move Away from the Sound of Gunfire—When you hear the shooting, lock the doors to the room you are in. It is imperative you put a barrier between you and the shooter.

Make the Decision to Stay or Evacuate—Time is of the essence. You must know in advance where the potential exits and points of ballistic cover are.

If you decide to stay, barricade the door. The shooter only has a little time before the police arrive. If you are armed, this is the time to deploy your firearm.

If you decide to leave, take as many people with you as you can. Get away from the shooter. Create distance from yourself and the gunshots. He is shooting at random without a plan. You have a plan. Be aware of a potential stampede or the crushing effect of a crowed, all trying to exit a single entryway.

Do Not Challenge the Shooter—Use a diversion and move. It is difficult to shoot a moving target, but if you cannot run, do not challenge him or confront him (Unless, of course, you can use lethal force). Stand still and at the last moment prior to him pulling the trigger, move, throw something at him, drop to the ground, charge him but don’t just stand there and take the shot. You must keep moving!

If You Don’t Move or Attack, You Could be Hurt—You have no chance for survival if you do nothing. At the last moment, become the aggressor; the best defense is a strong offense. If there are others around, charge the shooter together.

Remember, his hands are occupied and you have the advantage of surprise. Once you have him down, others will come and help you. Motivate others by taking action to save the lives of the ones around you.

When the Gun is Empty, Attack or Run—Basically, there are two types of handguns: a revolver or semiautomatic pistol. The cylinder holds the bullets in a revolver and in a semiautomatic handgun, the bullets are contained in a magazine. Most revolvers hold five or six rounds where the Glock semiautomatic pistol could hold anywhere from 15 to 17 rounds.

When he is out of ammunition and the shooting stops, the gun’s slide and barrel will lock to the rear.

That means the gun is empty. The shooter will have to drop out the magazine and place a new one in the gun. Now you need to make a decision, fight or flight.

Learn Some Basic Self-Defense or Get a Defensive Weapon—When the shooter is reloading, this is your opportunity to attack or move.

One important note: if you have not received close quarter combat or other tactical training, do not attempt to subdue or physically control the shooter. This type of training is specialized, dangerous and takes years to master.

It might be better to move or run.

The Moment of Truth—If you hear gunshots and they are close, it’s decision time. You will have less than five seconds to make a decision and you have five choices:

»» Exit immediately and save yourself.

»» Leave immediately and take someone with you.

»» Stop and hide and hope he does not find you.

»» Take cover and wait for the prime opportunity to attack the shooter.

»» From wherever you are, take the offensive and immediately attack the shooter with whatever weapons you can find.

Know the Difference between Concealment and Cover— Concealment offers little or no protection from bullets. It only takes you out of visual sight of the subject. He cannot see you and you cannot see him.

Create a Diversion and Ask a Question—If confronted by the shooter, do not talk to him or make eye contact.

If you are going to be shot, create a short diversion. Ask him a question prior to him pulling the trigger. Or toss something at him, such as your keys.

When he asks you, “Do you believe in God?,” respond with a question that is so off the wall that for a brief moment he has to stop and think.

Learn Some Basic Self-Help First-Aid

If you have been shot and help is on the way, you will have to wait. It could be 10 minutes or several hours before you receive medical treatment. You have got to administer self help to yourself until the paramedics get there.

To survive, your number one priority is to stop the loss of blood. One method is direct pressure on the wound or just above the wound. Use your belt if nothing else. If you are going to lose consciousness, find a hard object and place it under your body above the wound and lay on top of it.

When you pass out from the loss of blood, your body weight and the hard object will constrict your arterial blood flow. The pressure on the wound will continue even after you have passed out due to the loss of blood. Remember: if possible elevate the wounded area.

Learn Basic First-Aid to Help Others

The Red Cross offers these classes. When the shooting stops and the injured are screaming for help, you will have only seconds to make a decision on a wound. Who can I save and who can’t I help?

Every second counts when someone has been shot and bleeding profusely.

On the island inNorway, there were more than 80 victims who had been shot at close range. Triage takes over and it’s the paramedic’s job to identify whose life can be saved.

When fire and rescue gets on the scene, time is critical. They will not initially send enough trucks to cover the massacre. If there are more than 15 to 20 shots fired, rescue trucks will be arriving from all parts of the city. There will be a delay time in their arrival.

Prior to fire and rescue arriving, try to identify students whose injuries are life threatening and can be saved. Those who are shot and will die anyway should not be treated at this time. It is a very difficult decision, but every second counts. Do the best you can with your limited knowledge until the paramedics get there.

Interaction with the Police: You Could Be the Shooter

Again, this is critical. As you exit the building, do exactly what the police tell you. You will be treated as if you are a suspect or even the gunman until you have been positively identified as a victim. Many times, hostage takers dress like their hostage or victims in an attempt to confuse the police.

What You Saw is Important

The police will ask you for a description of the gunman and if there are other shooters. They will ask you who is still on the island or inside the building. The police will need diagrams of what happened and where. Who is the shooter, who has been shot and what weapons were used by the shooter(s)?

Try to compose yourself so you can give the police the most up-to-date, complete and factual information as possible. You have survived and will be emotionally and physically traumatized. Describe to the police what has happened and your observations.

Educate Yourself

Active shooters may not be terrorists, but what they do is. Mass or active shooters and terrorism are a worldwide problem. Intelligence is important in preventing terrorist attacks and preparation is the key to survival.