In light of the tragic, and seemingly random, shootings in the past few years it is critical to think about how you would respond if you were at your desk, at church, in a mall or even a crowded theater… and suddenly heard gun shots. What would you do?
First, do you routinely take casual notice of the space around you? Is there cover, concealment, multiple exits? What is cover? A barrier will stop a bullet. A concrete block wall might serve as cover, but a standard interior wall will not. Concealment is something that hides you from view. It could be a curtain, a wall, a piece of furniture…but it will not stop a bullet. Contrary to most popular TV programs, a car may make reasonable concealment but not necessarily effective cover.
Do you know where the exit points are? In a mall, this may include the employee door at the rear of a store, but not always. You should know at least two ways to get out of your office in the event of an emergency, just in case your first way out is blocked. Wherever you are, make it a habit to scan the area for cover, concealment, and possible exits. This can be part of your normal Situational Awareness.
Your first responsibility in a random shooting situation is to get yourself and family members to safety…anyway you can. If you are forced to hide, and wait for help, make yourself as small as possible and try to hide behind something that will offer total concealment and at least partial cover (meaning it may not stop but will slow a bullet). Try to be out of the apparent path of the shooter, even though it may not be possible to predict. If possible, move away at an angle from the shooter, or from where the shots are heard. Taking yourself out of the straight line path gives you better odds. Turn your cell phone off, not vibrate which still makes noise, but OFF. Remain silent and hidden until the police arrive, secure the area and let you know it is safe to come out.
Once you are hidden, it may be tempting to peek out, or to run if you hear the sounds moving away. DO NOT peek. Running from concealment is a situational call that only you can make based on the circumstances.
If you can run when the shooting starts, or there is no other choice but to run because there is nowhere to hide, DO NOT run in a straight line. Duck and change direction somewhat along your path to the exit. This makes you a much more challenging target. Even highly skilled shooters have difficulty hitting a moving target, factor in the adrenaline and fear and you have better odds than you might think. Even if you are hit, remember that only about 30% of all (non-self inflicted) gunshot wounds are fatal. (Source, wiki.answers, statistics for 2012) That, and the other factors, such as making yourself a difficult target significantly increase your odds of survival.
Two key points; NEVER give up and ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings.
Peritus Holdings, Inc., the owner of the Firearms Network, encourages a free and open exchange of ideas by guest blog posts to provided various educational perspectives on the topics within the firearms’ community. However, placement of any such blog post on any of our sites, including this blog post, is not an official endorsement of the good and service and any and all use and reliance by readers is at their sole discretion and should be independently evaluated.