Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Flaws Of "Run, Hide, Fight"

I’ve been distracted from this blog between work, my family during the holidays, and other things. I just read about a shooting in a church in Texas where some people were killed but the gunman was killed by a parishioner who had volunteered to be on a security team. There is video of the shooting if you can handle that sort of reality. This made me think about the governments “Run, Hide, Fight” (RFH) campaign. The shooting in Texas was over in seconds. The RFH would have done no one any good. Security on the spot made the difference. There were 7 people armed in that church that we can see in the video. These church security teams have some type of training usually. There was 250 people in that church. Two were killed before the gunman was stopped by someone else with a gun.
I have worked for the federal government in one capacity or another my entire adult life. The training we receive is RFH. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have also adopted this training. I fear for those who put so much stock in this training. Let me explain why. RFH is a soft response to hard violence. The problem with RFH is that it does not teach about the extreme violence that a mass shooter is. It does not teach the importance of being ready mentally for this type of attack. It does not talk about the normalcy bias that most people experience during a violent encounter. Living in North America most people are relatively safe most of the time and their “normal” does not involve violence. I think that’s one of the great benefits of living in the U.S. But it does foster an inadequate mindset of “All is well.” This can be dangerous because there is usually a “freeze” before the fight or flight response. That is sometimes precious seconds that could be used to run or hide. This is a definition of the freeze from a 2010 article by Dr. David Golstein
“The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety.”
Most people are not prepared for this response and so often nothing actually happens which is what we call freeze. That’s where the “Deer in the headlights” look can come from. It’s too bad that RHF doesn’t acknowledge something that most people will experience. There are ways to learn to control this reaction and it has to with a mindset. Preparing for this type of event in your mind can make a difference. Thinking of scenarios “If someone comes in that door and does this, I’ll do this” can help if ever faced with the real thing. I know you can’t imagine every scenario, but just thinking of a few will put you much further ahead than you would be. It also gives your mind somewhere to go during this type of event that may keep your from freezing. It does work and is used to train tactical teams. I used to teach a tactical response class in the military. I would use an air horn at a particularly quiet moment to demonstrate the way something unusual can get your adrenalin pumping. It was interesting to see the reaction from some battle experienced people.
Another problem with RHF is that it fosters a “checklist” attitude. These events are situationally driven. Sometimes you may have to go straight to Fight because the situation warrants it. But the way RHF is taught Fight is a “last resort”. That is not reality and so it teaches you can’t fight yet because you haven’t exhausted the run and hide options yet. This can get you killed. It should be taught “Run or Hide or Fight” to be of any advantage to a victim. The RHF system also creates a victim right away without even giving anyone a chance at something else. It creates a non-aggressive mindset when there are many scenarios where those being attacked should be in a self-defense mode rather than a “roll-over-you’re-dead” mode. For some reason the general public in the U.S. have this idea that only law enforcement can or will defend you. Law enforcement is the best in the world in this country. But unless you carry an officer in your back pocket or bag they are minutes away! There are politicians and snowflakes out there that would have you believe that only the police can use violence to defend you. Most law enforcement will agree that is simply not true, yet it is still perpetuated. “Don’t fight with your attacker, give them what they want.” A purse or wallet is one thing but a woman’s virtue is something else! Don’t let this false training deceive you!
Since Columbine law enforcement has changed its tactics with mass shooters. They used to establish a secure perimeter and wait for SWAT to take out a killer. No longer do they do this. Many people have died with this tactic. Law enforcement has changed, and you should too. Don’t let anyone teach you that running and hiding are the first things you should do in an active shooter situation. Don’t misunderstand, running and hiding are very good options. They can save many lives. But situational awareness is the most important skill along with a quick threat assessment. Learn about your options. Get trained so that when fight is the best and first option, you’ll be ready. Try to teach others, politicians and leaders, that gun free zones are where people die. Give us the options to get trained and to defend ourselves. If there is one thing we can learn from the latest tragedy in another Texas Church, it’s that someone armed and even trained basically can save lives and make the difference. Don’t be a victim, get training and practice what you learn.

Have a great New Year!

Semper Paratus
Check 6
Burn

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