The staff at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, were recently put on “lockdown” after reports of shots fired on the grounds.
That’s the second time in less than a week a military site in the Metropolitan area has jumped to high alert. Right before the 4th of July there was a report of shots fired at the Washington Navy Yard prompting a massive law enforcement response.
It’s no surprise law enforcement rushed to the scene. In 2013, employees at the Navy Yard were terrorized by a shooting incident. Further, authorities were jumpy over a warning of possible terrorist attack over the holiday weekend.
Not only were authorities right to rush to the report of shooters at a public place. The rest of us ought to take this stuff seriously as well. Tragedies happen. Here is the advice I dispensed in my book Surviving the End.
If you suspect that you are trapped in the middle of these scenarios, you must be prepared to act if you plan to survive. You can’t be a passive bystander. The FBI has a pretty good video explaining what to do. Here is a simple summary of the best advice.
Don’t panic. Remember the basics of survival—faith, health, and good common sense. If you are armed with these things, you are as equipped as anyone to deal with the situation. Have trust and confidence in your own judgment.
Take cover. You don’t want to be out in the open where an assailant has a line-of-sight to you. If you are in the proximity of an incident, the safest bet might be to get to a secure location (just like Dick Cheney)—a room with brick or block walls, the fewer windows the better (pull down the shades or close the curtains if there are windows), and a solid door that you can lock. Barricade the access points with whatever is available. Stay calm and quiet (take precautions like putting cell phones on vibrate). Stay out of sight.
Contact for help. Hopefully you can call, text, email, or safely signal to someone for help. We have already talked about the importance of knowing how to make an effective 911 call or use an emergency app on your digital device. In an active-shooter scenario, you won’t just be asking for help, but you’ll be sharing critical information that may help authorities at the scene. You should be prepared to share: a) your specific location, b) the number of people with you and their conditions (i.e. injuries), and c) critical information about the assailants—numbers, description including race and gender, physical features (height, weight, facial hair, glasses), clothing, types of weapons they are using and their current activities (e.g., have you heard explosions or gunshots?).
Treat the injured. Remember the advice about being an expert at first aid. You might have to put that into practice—stemming blood loss or treating for shock.
Evacuate. You want to evacuate when it is safe. Hopefully, the authorities will arrive and establish safe corridors for passage, directing where and when to go. Most likely, if you are trapped in the middle of an active shooter scenario, you will be escorted out of the danger area by law enforcement personnel. You should cooperate with safety or security officials and follow their directions explicitly.
Fight back. If you are trapped and can’t escape, take the battle to your assailant. Fight back with whatever you have. Your only chance of survival is to incapacitate or deter your would-be murderer.
And then I added this one.
Get a gun. You know what’s weird? Go through all the advice from FEMA, the Red Cross and so on. Did you find any information about arming yourself as a means of protecting your home and hearth? Me neither. How dumb is that? Being armed is a perfectly appropriate response for everyday Americans concerned about the safety of themselves and their family—not just for an active-shooter scenario, but any of the disaster situations that threaten the life and property of your loved ones.