In the aftermath of the devastating Maine shooting only two days ago, numerous questions now arise, that should prompt us to have introspection and reflection. One key concern is: How did we reach this point again? Could the signs leading up to this 40-year-old assailant's violent act have been foreseen? We are hearing that he was suffering with mental illness, and perhaps had been telling people he was in a dark place. Were there red flags missed that his behavior indicated he was another person in crisis who was on a pathway to violence? We know the answers to those questions will come in the coming weeks and months ahead, but another equally significant question for all of us to consider is:
How would we have reacted to ensure we were safe during this tragic incident?
What is clear is that in today’s modern world we cannot sit back and wait for the calvary to arrive as we know by that time it’s too late. Local law enforcement agencies, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) reveal that 911 response times vary across America but most data that we could find ranged from 10 to 15 minutes, and these are worse in rural areas. And we know that most active assailants conclude their mass killings within a small window of five to six minutes, they are then either neutralized by law enforcement (killed) or end up taking their own lives. The Maine incident, with the assailant fleeing, is an outlier. But, could this be indicative of a changing trend?
The tragic events at the Maine bowling alley and restaurant underscore the need for everyone to have personal vigilance no matter where you are in public, it’s essential. We summarized some core teachings from active shooter survival course and will give you six things to consider when in public that will dramatically enhance your personal safety. They are not listed in any particular order.
1.Trust Your Gut: As humans, we possess an innate "sixth sense." If something feels off, trust that instinct. It's always wiser to err on the side of caution. For example, Jeff Bauman, a witness to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, was suspicious of two individuals' behavior. Though he hesitated to act, these individuals later turned out to be the responsible brothers, leaving Bauman with the guilt of not acting. It is vital that we trust our instincts and act on them.
2. Recognize Baselines and Anomalies: Tragically, mass shootings are increasing. It's crucial to observe standard behaviors in any environment and remain alert to anomalies. Whether it's someone appearing restless, avoiding staff, or their attire and actions seeming out of place, being observant could save lives.
3. Strategic Seating in Public Spaces: Notice when an off duty, retired, or former cop is in a bar; they sit in a position facing the door. Why is this? ensuring you have a view of all exits and entrances is vital to have a clear line of sight to potential entry and exit points. Also, choose seating that offers both concealment and protection. Whenever you're in public places, like restaurants, bars, or movie theatres, always ask yourself, "If I need to evacuate quickly, which route will I take?"
4. Learn from Past Incidents: Research by Dr. James Densley, co-founder of The Violence Project, into mass shooters is enlightening. A common trait among these assailants is that they study previous mass shooters, often emulating their actions. Familiarizing ourselves with these past events enables us to anticipate potential threats and recognize behavioral patterns signaling something amiss.
5. Remember 'Run Hide Fight': Despite some criticisms, the "Run, Hide, Fight" strategy remains a sound approach. It's a versatile protocol tailored to the specific situation. It's important to understand that this isn't a strict sequence, but rather a set of options depending on the threat faced. During an incident, you might find yourself employing one, two, or all three tactics.
6. Engage in Conversations with Family and Friends: We’ve spoken with numerous school leaders who express concern about the psychological impact of mass shooting drills on children. The unfortunate reality is that today's children are more accustomed to threats than we'd prefer. Hence, it's crucial to engage in open and candid discussions with them, rather than shielding them from reality. We are each responsible for our own safety and shouldn't solely rely on others. We urge you to discuss with friends and family their immediate actions during a crisis. If they lack a strategy, assist them in devising one.
As we gather more insights into the Maine tragedy, we must continuously learn and adapt. Knowledge is our first line of defense. Being proactive, staying informed, and having a plan can make all the difference. We hope none of us ever face such an ordeal, but being prepared could mean the difference between life and death. Before we sign off we want to end with us remembering all the people that lost their lives in Maine, and for those that survived. That they may find the peace to move forward from this tragedy.
Following the civil unrest, many individuals across America obtained their concealed carry licenses, but might still require training to enhance their critical thinking, judgment, and decision-making skills. At Bold North Judgement Training, we offer dynamic and realistic "shoot, don't shoot" training sessions. If you're a concerned citizen alarmed by the increasing mass shootings in America and wish to be well-prepared, we'd be more than happy to have you host one of our upcoming trainings. For more details, please visit: https://www.judgementtraining.com/