Just as we were about to hit “Send” on this month’s newsletter, the news feeds started reporting the Las Vegas shooting incident. At the time we write this, there are an estimated 50 deceased and 200 injured. Word such as “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones” are important to say, but it feels a hollow and empty gesture compared to the magnitude of loss these people must be experiencing.
As we learn more about the incident, we will hear the same things we have always heard. Some officials will call to disarm everyone… Some will call for the ‘assault rifle’ to finally be banned, and some will call for a time of reflection before any rash decisions are made. But, what everyone is really saying is “I’m worried and what can I do to protect myself?”. And in reality, this is the best question we can ask. Here’s how K&B responds to this:
Always be aware. It sounds like you’re on duty 24/7 if you try this, but it really does become second nature, and once a person becomes practiced at it, takes little or no time to enact. Where are the exits? Where are access doors? Where is cover? Where is concealment? Where might a bad guy approach from? What might happen here?
In all, we are creating a library in our head to enact various mitigations. Ducking for cover, getting away, having to stay and fight, etc.
Even well trained citizens might never have thought about bullets raining down from above, and this is part of what is scaring everyone. Our situational awareness must be 3 dimensional.
Overcome normalcy bias:
You know that door marked “Employees only” or “Authorized personnel only”? In times of emergency, go through that door. The stupid words on the stupid door no longer apply to you or anyone you care about. If going through that door gets you our of line of sight and to a place of cover/concealment, you take it. You do what it takes to stay alive.
Remember that private security or ushers or whatever will be undergoing the same transitions out of normalcy bias as you. They may be in the mode of “preserve order” or “continue enforcing policy”. In short, the commands of these relatively untrained people no longer apply to you. Get to safety for yourself as quickly as possible and with as little harm to others as necessary.
This may sound incomprehensible, but even in the Sept 11 World Trade Center attack, there were guards telling people to return to their desks, that there was no need to evacuate. This was normalcy bias in action, and it cost people their lives.
Having a plan and enacting a plan:
Always have a plan. Now that we are aware of our surroundings and factors in our environment, and now that we are aware of how normalcy bias can restrict our decisions and actions, we can make a plan that might not include it. Enjoying a meal at a restaurant? Get seated near a back exit, kitchen area, or other escape route that might be different than the front doors. Enjoying a concert? Maybe you enjoy it from an area a bit closer to the emergency exit. Or maybe you know that those steel barricades are easily jumped and lead to a parking lot full of concealment options.
In short, train yourself to see what options there really are. Train yourself to act quickly and decisively once Bad Things are afoot, and train yourself and loved ones to execute your plan quickly. Train as if it were a matter of life and death. Because sadly, it may one day be.