One of the curious things about people is how quickly, and sometimes how slowly, we learn. In the wake of the Paris attacks and now San Bernardino, it seems people are finally starting to take preparedness a bit more seriously. We can sometimes be a bit harsh on civilians, and honestly, it is often quite funny, but when disaster strikes we all want everyone to be okay. We train for the worst-case scenario all the time, so preparedness is part of the air we breathe; it’s not that way for civilians who only know it through the evening news or their Facebook feed.
We have to give credit where it is due, and we have witnessed true heroism from people totally untrained and unprepared, who stand up when the worst day of their lives arrives. From the stoicism, everyday humor, and bravery exhibited by Londoners during The Blitz and the IRA bombing campaign from the ’70s through the ’90s, to the defiance of Parisians in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and latest Paris attacks, civilians have greater reservoirs of bravery than they are aware of. But they are seldom prepared to act, and as a result, it takes time for them to react—that time costs lives.
There are many articles and videos making their way through the Internet right now about how to survive active shooter or terrorist situations, and I’m not going to belabor them too much other than to summarise some key points. It doesn’t pay to focus on these scenarios too much; despite the huge media coverage, your chances of being caught up in one are still infinitesimally small. Even in terrorist-afflicted countries such as Israel, during the last Intifada, you had a 1 in 76,000 chance of being caught up in an attack. In 2001, the worst attack the U.S. had ever seen only put the odds up to 1 in 101,000. That being said, the same awareness that helps you react quickly in an instance that rare will also help you to react quickly to any other far-more-likely emergency situation you will encounter. As Louis Pasteur put it, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
1. Be the spark
One of the best videos on dealing with active shooters was done by Endeavor Defense and Fitness. The co-owner, Aaron Janetti, talked about how just one person is needed to provide the spark, and more people will join in. That’s where you come in. Regardless of what your rank is, or was, you need to be prepared to lead, to be the spark that pulls everyone else in to action before things start to spiral out of control. You’re never going to be a victim, you’re never going to go down without a fight. Certainly those around you don’t want to, either, but they will need that spark to break the spell of fear and inaction.