In Light of Recent Gun Violence, How Can We Protect Ourselves? Here's 6 Things You Should Know

Growing up in school, we all were accustomed to having fire drills where everyone neatly queued behind the teacher, walked out of the classroom, and patiently waited outside the building for the fire marshal to give the “all clear”. It all happened in a controlled environment, and sometimes we were even made aware that it would be happening so that we could all prepare. While I always understood the importance of these drills, to be honest, I remember thinking how unrealistic it was to expect anyone to remain calm and orderly in the event of an actual emergency. But now, its not just fires that we have to worry about.

Across America, standard drill procedures are changing in light of the catastrophic events of gun violence that have claimed far too many innocent lives in schools, in workplaces and public spaces. My heart and condolences go out to all the victims and families who have lost their loved ones and have suffered an incomprehensible pain.

Given that the variety of active threats around us has increased, we can’t afford to be in a position where we don’t know how to respond. In the past few years, I’ve caught my mind frequently drifting into dark places thinking about what I would do in crisis scenarios, how would I react and what my plan would be. But, I’ve never actually made a plan, until this week.

This week at work, we had an Active Threat in the Workplace Training, which was chillingly timely given the recent tragedies that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg and at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks. At first, I hadn’t planned on attending because of a meeting conflict, but then I thought about how privileged my decision to not go would be given that so many people have been stripped of the chance to protect themselves and remain safe.

An NYPD officer along with our head of global security ran us through a few scenarios, and provided instructions on what to do in the event of an emergency. Some of this might seem intuitive, but you’ll never know how you’ll actually react in a situation like this.

Run: The first thing you should always do is try to remove yourself from the danger zone as quickly as possible. According to the police, you would be surprised by how many people tend to head towards the danger to investigate what it might be. Its always safer to move in the opposite direction.

Hide: If you’re not in a position to run, the next option is to hide in a concealed area behind dense objects. A bathroom or any other type of room that locks is ideal.

Fight: If you’re out of options, the very last thing you should do is fight, but fight smart especially if you’re not used to physically engaging another person. Try to blindside the attacker by coming at them from an angle or by throwing objects at their face, because their natural response will be to shield their face, which means they cannot shoot.

Now here are some things that you should never do:

  1. Don’t post on social media: Unfortunately, a lot of people especially younger people, have captured tragic events on their phones while they are unraveling. This not only provides gruesome images that are not necessary to be shown, but it also wastes precious time when you could be removing yourself from the situation. Even more importantly, some people have actually given away police authorities’ hiding positions while they’re trying to apprehend the suspect. Many suspects use social media during an attack to try to figure out the police’s next move so don’t give them what they want.

  2. Don’t leave or disarm a secure location until the police confirm its safe

  3. Don’t pull the fire alarm to alert others of an attack. Pulling the fire alarm triggers people to come out into the hallways where the active shooter might be.

I know this is a seemingly dark post that many of us don’t want to think about, but that is exactly the problem. We can’t allow these types of tragedies to become normalized, although it may seem like it already has. We have to arm ourselves with the knowledge we can use to protect ourselves and one another.