As video circulates of the Las Vegas shooting, I think we are all heartbroken, confused and angry. Moreover, many of us are panicked and uneasy. Mass shootings and killings have entered an all-time high in the last decade. The scariest part is that you never know when or where they could happen. It's sad that there is so much evil in this world that scares so many of us into hiding and drawing away from events and society. I think by drawing away and avoiding these situations, whether it be a movie theater, concert or something else, we are letting evil win.
Personally, I am an avid event and concert goer. I was actually at a concert Friday night here in Salt Lake City. It was the Florida Georgia Line concert. I was dancing and singing with my friend having a great time. That's exactly what most of the attendees in Vegas were doing as well. To their shock, their joyous time was cut short with absolute chilling terror. That terror resulted in utter chaos.
The more accounts I read of the massacre, the more I started trying to put myself in these poor innocent people's shoes. I asked myself, "Do you know what to do in this situation?" Since I am frequently at large events and concerts, the thought dawned on me that I should know how to handle a frightening situation like this in a sensible manner to keep myself safe. I realized I have no clue what to do, just like many of the people there and many of the rest of us.
[Proactive Steps Before Any Event]
1. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings
When you arrive at an event, whether indoors or outdoors, look around. Where are the exits? Ask yourself, "How would I get out of here?" Where are the main doors?" If it is outdoors, is there a fence? If yes, where are the gates? Are they locked? When you are cognizant of the exits from the beginning, you will be able to quickly get out of harm's way, even in a panicky and chaotic situation because you know instinctively where to run.
2. Don't ever get wasted at a large public event
If you are extremely drunk, you are impaired. It is less likely you would be able to gather your senses, move quickly and nimbly, or be as observant in the likelihood of a chaotic and dangerous event.
[Reactive Steps During a Dangerous Situation]
3. Stay calm and start moving
Freaking out, screaming, etc. is not going to help. You need to focus on getting yourself to safety. Stay calm and get moving.
4. Listen for the direction of the shots
You need to be able to run away from the danger rather than towards it. It's important to start moving while also trying to realize where the danger is coming from and go the opposite direction.
5. Find cover
The most important thing you can do in this situation is find cover. Cover does not include something like a shrub or bushes, that is just concealment. Cover is a barrier- something protective and hard like a car. Sheetrock walls or thin metal surfaces are not a good option as the bullets will pierce the material. It's also important to get under the cover not just behind it. In the Las Vegas shooting, the shooter was raining down bullets from above. Simply positioning yourself behind something wouldn't necessarily serve as protection. Instead, you need to be under the cover as much as possible.
6. Be aware of the crowds
Pay attention to the crowds around you and get out of the way as fast as possible. When terror hits, people panic and often others can get ran over and trampled in the chaos.
7. Grab the hand of a person next to you
If you are with your friend, grab their hand and don't let go. Stay together or with someone as much as possible. Cell phones will be going crazy and the likelihood of getting on the phone could be slim.
8. Avoid a traffic jam
As people are fleeing, if they try to get in their car and drive away from a densely packed event parking area, there will likely be a traffic jam. This could result in sitting ducks if the shooter is pursuing people.
9. Get as far away as possible
Just keep running. Get away. The farther from the scene you can get, the better.
10. You can't save someone if you are dead, too
Personally, I think my inclination would be to help the wounded on the way. I'd want to try and do what I can but that is not a good idea. It sounds insensitive but it is also what they teach our troops. There is a reason police officers and military members have protective gear. You cannot help someone if you are dead, too. In the military, they are trained not to run after the wounded in active fire because it results in more casualties. A guy runs to help, he gets shot. Now there are two down. Another guy goes to help those two and then he gets shot, also. Bad tactics can get everyone killed. It is what they refer to as tactical combat casualty care or TC3. It prevents further casualties. Do not run into the fire. Once the shooter has been stopped, then you can go in and start helping. Like I said before, you can't help if you are dead, too.
None of us ever want to experience the sheer terror of a mass shooting or other dangerous and deadly situation but the reality is that it could happen anywhere and anytime. Make sure you are prepared to react in your best interest in that moment. The more cognizant, calm and constructed, the higher likelihood of survival.
My thoughts and my heart are with each and every person directly impacted by this gruesome and senseless act of violence. Come together as a nation. Stop the hate. Embrace one another with love. If you'd like to help, this link provides information on where to donate money and where to give blood.