When I checked my Facebook this morning, the horrible news about what happened in Las Vegas was the first thing I saw. I was filled with the same shock and grief that I’m sure everyone felt when they first got the news. As the day went on, that shock turned to anger and a profound sadness. This marks a new kind of mass shooting. He didn’t just snap. This horrific act of domestic terrorism took a serious amount of planning, and the sole purpose of such a despicable act is to incite chaos and fear. The terrorist had an arsenal of fully automatic weapons (extremely hard to get legally, and most likely illegally obtained), and he positioned himself with a tactical advantage and barricaded himself in the room in such a way that it required a controlled explosion to enter the room. Security experts are working hard to find solutions to protect people from this type of violence in the future, but it’s hard to wait for answers when the feelings are so raw and immediate.
As we wait to hear from them on what we should do to keep ourselves safe, I wanted to share some things that I’ve learned in the past from counterterrorism and Escape & Evasion experts such as Mike Coffin, Tim Kennedy, and Doc. Mike Simpson. I’m sure that many of you are feeling a sense of hopelessness in the face of such horrific violence, so I hope this leaves you feeling a little bit more empowered or slightly safer than you may have felt before.
Get Off The X
The spot you are in is the “X” that I’m talking about here. It’s the spot where you are standing / sitting / lying down. When the X becomes compromised… when it becomes unsafe… you must get off the X. That means RUN. Sometimes the X is very big, as it was in this incident, and it might take awhile to find your way off of it. You may get injured or killed on your way off of the X, but despite the risk, your objective is the same – get off the X.
In the absence of cover, in most cases it is also wise to seek concealment. However, your primary objective is to get off of the X as quickly and safely as possible.
Help, or Find Help
As I mentioned before, get off of the X. But also, if you see someone is hurt and in need of help, and if you do not know how to render aid in that case, the best thing that you can do for that person is to go find someone who does know how to render aid. I’ve been in a situation where I stood there and watched someone bleed out because I didn’t know what to do. Don’t do what I did – take action and find someone who can help.
Make a Plan with Your Family
Talk to your adult family members and older children (age 5 or 6 should be able to understand most details of an emergency plan) about what your plan is in case of an emergency like this. Talk about the mundane details, like – if the baby’s not in it, leave the stroller. Drop whatever you have and pick up the child. These things seem obvious, but under stress people either follow their plan or they follow their habits. Talk about it. Have a place to meet in case you are separated. Talk about where the Level 1 trauma centers are in town (in Austin there are two). Tell each other where you keep your tourniquet. Make a plan and talk about it.
I know it’s not much, but I do hope that this list helps you to feel a little bit safer during this horrible time. Be kind to yourself, and give your loved ones lots of hugs. We all need it.