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Basics on how to survive a shooting
Training focuses on what to do in case of an attacker
WASHINGTON — The mass shootings that have terrorized the country have led to a new focus on how to survive them. Though far from an exact science, these efforts are based on a disturbing amount of data — including case studies, the body counts from these tragedies and the personal narratives of people who somehow got out alive.
A number of private companies now train office workers in how to respond in an active-shooter event.
The experts agree: Following a few simple rules can help boost a person’s chance of survival. Being mentally prepared to take action in a crisis — or simply knowing where a building’s exits are — can make the difference.
The recent massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., fits with the general, horrifying pattern in recent years, in that life and death pivoted to a large degree on how the people there reacted in the initial minutes.
Research shows that it usually takes about three minutes for police to arrive at an active-shooter situation — although the Orlando club had an extra-duty uniformed police officer working security, and he engaged the shooter.
The best move for civilians, as always, was to get out of the place immediately by any possible route. Many escaped through rear and side doors onto a patio. Less fortunate were those who went into the restrooms, a dead end, and became trapped when the gunman came in after them.
“When you go somewhere, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where if you get found, you don’t have any options,” said Pete Blair, executive director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, based at Texas State University.
Blair co-authored “Active Shooter: Events and Response,” which includes guidance for civilians. The book’s mantra is “Avoid, Deny and Defend.”
The Department of Homeland Security has endorsed a similar concept, built around the words “Run, Hide, Fight.”
The latter option gained attention after Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said on “60 Minutes” last year that people should be prepared to take out an attacker before the police arrive.
Blair said that kind of action is a last resort: “When we do our training, we always stress that it’s ‘avoid, deny, defend,’ and they’re in that order for a reason.”
He said he’s not entirely comfortable with the “hide” concept; killers can find people under a desk, for example.
“Hide is a passive action. As opposed to ‘deny,’ where I try to keep you from getting to me,” Blair said.
The more active response is to barricade a door, or ideally lock it; his organization does not know of a case in which an active shooter breached a locked door.
He also cautioned against playing dead as a strategy: Although news reports have suggested that some of the Orlando victims survived by pretending they were dead, that often has not worked, Blair said.
“When you play dead, we see time and time again in these situations the shooters continue to shoot people who are down and who they think are dead,” Blair said.
Blair’s book warns against people with concealed handguns trying to engage a killer except as a last resort:
“The last thing you want to do in an active shooter event is to pull your gun out and go hunting for the shooter. If there are other concealed gun carriers in the attack location, they may shoot you. If the police show up, and you are running around with a gun, they will probably shoot you. Remember that no one knows who you are. The responders are looking for someone with a gun, and you match that description.”
Research on active-shooter events, as well as other mass-casualty incidents, including the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reveals the many mental and physical challenges that arise when a person is suddenly plunged into an unfamiliar, unexpected and terrifying situation.
Few people have ever experienced anything like this. As a result, most people are slow to grasp that something terrible is happening.
In the Pulse nightclub, people heard the initial gunfire from the shooter, Omar Mateen, but many assumed it was firecrackers or part of the music.
In a crisis in a confined space, people often instinctively behave in ways that do not boost their survival chances. For example, people typically try to leave a building through a main entrance rather than a secondary exit. That can create a bottleneck.
The classic example, involving a fire and not an active shooter, happened in the Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., on Feb. 20, 2003. A heavy metal band’s pyrotechnic display led to a fire in the wood-frame club. At first people thought it was part of the show. The fire spread rapidly and people stampeded toward the main entrance, where firefighters later found 25 bodies. A hundred people died in the fire.
That leads to one obvious tip to increase your chances of survival — know your secondary exits.
As a routine matter, people should understand how to get out of a building through emergency exits or back doors in case some event takes place that demands speedy evacuation.
All buildings have these exits — they’re required by fire codes. The point of fire drills is to train the mind to know where to go, without having to ponder the issue, in a situation that might be confusing and when people might not be think clearly.
A building may have more exits than people realize at first glance.
Consider the case of a food court: There may be only a couple of primary entrances and exits, but the food vendors probably have their own exits, via their kitchens. If trapped in a food court, Blair said, he’d jump a counter and flee through a kitchen.
Research suggests there is little hope of reasoning with a mass killer, Blair said.
The better move, if there’s no way to flee or find protective cover, is for multiple people to swarm the attacker. They should use whatever they have at hand as a weapon — coffee cups, car keys, anything.
“In general, this person has already shown a desire to murder people. To murder a lot of people,” Blair said. “Is there a chance you might be able to talk him down? There might be a chance. That chance is probably small. We just don’t see it happen in these cases.
“But we do know that in about 1 out of 5 cases we’ve seen people successfully stop the attacker.”
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A 77-year-old former miner was named today as the pensioner who was stabbed as he bravely tried to tackle Jo Cox’s killer.
Bernard Kenny was waiting outside Birstall library in his car, after taking his wife there to return a book, when he saw the MP being attacked and got out of his car to help her.
He was stabbed in the abdomen by the gunman, and remains in hospital being treated for serious injuries, which are described as “non life threatening”.
Friends said Mr Kenny’s selfless act was typical of his character, as he had risked his life as one of the rescuers involved in a colliery disaster 40 years ago.
(I haven’t been able to find a photo of Kenny. rjn)
An attempted bicycle theft in a Walmart parking lot was foiled by a cattle rancher on horseback, who chased the thief down and lassoed him until the local police in southern Oregon could arrive.
The bicycle was stolen from a bike rack outside a Walmart in Eagle Point, a town about 170 miles south of Eugene, Oregon, at around 10amon Friday morning. The woman who owned the bike and several others gave chase on foot but were unable to catch him.
Then a rancher named Robert Borba brought his horse out of its trailer, mounted up and chased the thief down, according to Chris Adams, an officer with the Eagle Point police who responded to the 911 call about the theft.
“When we arrived, there was a large crowd standing around a younger gentleman who was on the ground, the rope around his ankle, hanging on to a tree,” Adams said. Victorino Arellano-Sanchez was arrested and charged with theft, the police said.
“I seen this fella trying to get up to speed on a bicycle,” Borba told the Medford Mail-Tribune. “I wasn’t going to catch him on foot. I just don’t run very fast.” He added: “I use a rope every day, that’s how I make my living. If it catches cattle pretty good, it catches a bandit pretty good.”
Not a lot is known about Borba because he is new in town, Adams said, but “it appears he will be a good fit. Eagle Point is a small city, and people watch out for each other. That’s exactly what he did.”
David Stepp said that he had been sitting in his car nearby when he saw the cowboy trotting across the parking lot on his horse after the thief, who was trying to escape on the stolen bicycle.
When the thief dismounted and tried to flee on foot, Stepp watched as the cowboy lassoed him by the ankle. The thief then grabbed a tree and held on to it until the police arrived. “Best day of my life,” Stepp said.
“I was laughing too hard to intervene,” he said. “I’ve seen it all, but I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life.”
Stepp said he would love to buy the cowboy a beer. “This guy should be our next president.”
“The guy was just hanging back like ‘you ain’t gonna steal no bike in front of me’,” Stepp said about Borba. The owner of the bike was “just happy to have her bike back”, he added.
One of our little boys went missing for part of an afternoon. Scary. When he eventually turned up at home, he explained that he’d been playing at a friend’s house–beyond our neighborhood, a friend we didn’t know.
Joanne called the friend’s mother and asked her to call us when our kid was there. That mother said, “You don’t have to worry. Our house is safe. We have a gun in every room of the house.” rjn
Does Carrying A Pistol Make You Safer?
More bridges at source.
6 October 2011
Sicily’s tiny anti-Mafia TV channel
A tiny Sicilian TV station that campaigns against the Mafia, Telejato, is among hundreds of channels threatened with closure due to a change in the law.
Partinico is a pretty nondescript little town – a handful of baroque churches, a couple of elegant palazzos and a lot of ugly concrete in between.
If it were not for the fact that it is in the so-called “Mafia Bermuda Triangle”, perhaps nobody outside the province of Palermo would have heard of it.
As it is, like Corleone, it is a name that prompts Italians to raise an eyebrow and suck in their breath when you tell them you are planning to visit.
My point of departure is San Giuseppe Jato, another former Mafia stronghold. Having just visited a vineyard on land confiscated from an infamous jailed boss, I decide to try my luck with the only direct bus of the day to Partinico.
I do what the traffic warden advises and wave it down in the middle of the road, just in front of the toy shop.
After a picturesque journey through the Jato Valley, I alight an hour later at my destination, a town where the mountains rise up above the church steeples and illegal attic extensions.
I find the block of flats which is home to Telejato without too much difficulty. It is on a quiet side street away from the bustle of the main road.
The building number seems right but there is no sign or any directions to the TV station inside. I conclude that the best way to find Pino Maniaci is to follow my nose. As I climb the staircase, the smell of cigarette smoke gets stronger.
I follow the aroma up to the second floor, through an unlocked door and into the newsroom.
It is 13:20 and they go live at 14:00. Pino, his daughter and a couple of volunteer journalists are putting together the bulletin.
When I come in, he turns towards me, cigarette between his lips. After the briefest of greetings he says, “We’re on air soon so sit down and don’t break my balls.”
His daughter looks up and grins. “Don’t worry, that’s how he talks to everyone,” she says.
Indeed Pino Maniaci, when not inhaling smoke, is invariably exhaling expletives.
Unable to sit still and not wishing to be a ball-breaker, I nose around the small converted apartment.
You can tell by the pictures, tributes and cuttings on the walls, just how proud Pino is of Telejato. He has turned a tiny local TV station into one of Sicily’s most powerful anti-Mafia voices.
With his Groucho Marx-style moustache and Chico Marx-style accent, he boasts that even the Mafia watch Telejato”
He says nearly all the locals watch it. In the heart of Cosa Nostra territory, he was the first journalist to dare to give the full names of arrested mafiosi.
Before him, nobody published more than initials for fear of reprisals.
Pino, his family and a small team of volunteers put together a daily news show, which is dominated by Mafia and corruption stories.
“We’re always first on the scene,” he tells me. “Even international channels like CNN call and ask to use our footage.”
The station works closely with the various police forces, including the Catturandi di Palermo – a special squad that hunts mafiosi in hiding.
“Wherever we show up, they’re there. Wherever they show up, we’re there.”
Pino’s childlike bravado conceals his genuine courage.
With his Groucho Marx-style moustache and Chico Marx-style accent, he boasts that even the Mafia watch Telejato.
“We were the only ones to interview the brother of Bernardo Provenzano, one of the biggest Mafia bosses,” he tells me.
With a gleeful twinkle, Pino continues, “We even discovered that Provenzano himself had an aerial specially positioned to pick up our signal. If you listen to the police wire taps, you can hear our signature tune!”
Telejato has a motto: “They consider themselves men of honour. For us, dishonouring them is a question of honour.”
Pino uses derision as both weapon and shield, but he admits he is scared, especially for his family.
“I smoke three packets a day and always joke that it’s just as well the biggest room in our tiny station is the bathroom!”
Living under police escort, he has suffered countless attacks – slashed tyres, severed brake cables, burnt-out cars, windscreens shattered by gunshots.
“They even tried to bump me off!” he chuckles, describing a failed attempt to strangle him, which left him with four fractured ribs, a broken leg, a black eye and several broken teeth.
At 17:00, it is time for me to head for the station to catch a train up to Palermo.
Pino refuses to let me go without showing me some true Sicilian hospitality. Police escort in tow, we go to a nearby coffee bar.
Everyone, including the officers, gets an espresso and Pino insists I taste a cannolo, the island’s famous ricotta-filled pastry.
“I have to keep Telejato going,” says Pino between mouthfuls, “so that one day Sicily will be more famous for these than for the Mafia.”