This, like the others, took more innocent victims. Everyone seems preoccupied with asking so many questions in an attempt to understand why these perpetrators kill and who is to blame: parents, the media, video games, guns or the economy? These are all the wrong questions!
Men, women and children worldwide have been the victims of such attacks for years. The massacres in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, Mumbai, India, Beslan, Russia, Tuusula, Finland, Utoya Island, Norway, Toulouse, France and many others are tragic examples of the threat that shooters pose to public safety.
Yet, many people chose to ignore the risk by assuming that such attacks will not happen or believing that they can be protected by local law enforcement. These are dangerous assumptions.
We all know that there is no such thing as 100 percent security, and no one knows where and when the next attack will occur. Active shooters and terrorists always attack the most vulnerable targets. They plan their attacks meticulously and over a long period of time and exploit weaknesses in security systems.
They attack with surprise and their goal is to inflict the largest number of casualties as quickly as possible. That is why most casualties in these incidents occur during the first 10 minutes, before law enforcement intervention.
Whether the shooter is a mentally deranged person, a religious fanatic, a vengeful employee or an outcast student, they all use similar tactics and the results are always the same: large scale death and suffering. As community leaders, business managers, teachers and parents, we are in a position of trust.
If we do not act responsibly, we are failing those who put their trust in us and accept the loss of innocent lives. Doing nothing to prepare and accepting defeat is unethical and un-American.
As Americans, we do not give in or give up. We know that life is sacred and we fight for what is right. A mass murderer killing innocent men, women and children is wrong! It is time we start asking ourselves the most important question: What can be done to survive and stop the violence during the attack … when escape is impossible and the shooter is on location killing people?
Under life-threatening circumstances, a person will automatically resort to employing skills and a plan of action that have been practiced previously. In order to survive, we must be trained to think like a survivor, manage the stress and follow through with an effective plan of action.
There is no doubt that victims of such attacks all share a common desire of staying alive. What they lack is the knowledge necessary to act in self-preservation. In courses funded by the Department of Homeland Security, we teach participants how to rapidly assess the threat, locate exits, use cover and evacuate safely when possible, or how to barricade in an enclosed space and deny access to the shooter.
The program teaches step-by-step last resort survival measures on how to disorient and disable the shooter and take control of his weapon. It also teaches how to identify signs of dangers and implement preventive security to harden possible targets, and how to improve crisis communication.
The program can be learned online by anyone, anytime, anywhere. It will increase survivability and improve cooperation with the first responders.
In our lifetime, none of us should ever face a suicidal, violent killer. No one deserves to be a victim. Yet, this type of violence does happen, and it is more common place than we would like to believe. Security cameras cannot stop these killers, and ignoring the threat will not make it go away.
Counting on others to save us will not always work. We must be prepared to take action to save ourselves! Remember that active shooters and terrorists are human, just like the rest of us, and as such, they have weaknesses that can be exploited by a group of people committed to survival. Action always beats reaction, and there is strength in numbers.
If you are working together and are determined to fight, your chances of survival are actually good. The next tragedy can be prevented and more lives could be saved if we focused our attention on teaching people what they can do to save themselves when the next attack occurs at a workplace, school, mall, movie theater or place of worship.
Be prepared and if it comes down to it … don’t just duck under a desk and die fight back.