The Friday, January 31, 2014 edition of “The Daily Collegian” (Penn State’s student newspaper) featured a front page article titled “Police, university officials discuss reaction plan to school shooting”.  Some assorted thoughts follow.

When responding to an “active shooting”, the article says that “The officers follow three steps.  Their first preference is to force the shooter to surrender.  If that fails, they are trained to barricade and incapacitate the threat.”  Keep in mind that ~ 43% of active shooting events are over BEFORE the police arrive.  The cold, hard facts are that YOU are responsible for YOU.  The police aren’t going to magically appear to save you.  Chances are very strong that they won’t arrive in time.  So what’s your plan to survive?

I’ve discussed previously Penn State’s “5 outs” program.  In this article they refer to a “SAFE” acronym, which stands for

S – Search for a safe place

A – Alert authorities

F – Find a place to hide

E – End the threat

My opinion is that this may be an adequate response if you have no other options and can’t reach any kind of exit.  But a better response is to get the heck out of the building as quickly as you can.  The “duck and hide” mentality is a nanny-state response that wants to enforce helplessness on people and reduce their willingness and ability to take care of themselves.  How much better would it be if individuals had both the means and ability to protect themselves (and others) at all times?

Another consideration is the type of attack.  Is it a solo shooter, such as a disgruntled student/co-worker/mentally ill person?  Or is it a coordinated terrorist attack (some LE and counter-terrorist specialists feel that schools are being studied as targets due to the emotional response guaranteed to transpire from such an event.  Farfetched?  Spend some time studying the terrorist attack at Beslan where 334 hostages were killed, 186 of them children.)  

Terrorists know that the standard protocol is to barricade the building.  That’s exactly what they’re looking for so that they can ensure maximum media coverage for the final carnage.  It’s not like they’re waiting to have their demands met or have a point to their “negotiations”.   Similar considerations for a mall scenario, such as those that have happened overseas (ex. Kenya, Mumbai).  It never ends well for the folks that have made the choice to hide inside and wait to be rescued. 

So what’s the right response?  That’s up to you.  Be informed, be intelligent, and be prepared.  Take personal accountability for the safety of you and your family. 

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