6 Ways To Curb Active Shooters

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6 Ways to Curb Active Shooters Attacks

Can we end active shooter events?
Can we end active shooter events?

The recent shootings in diverse settings greet Americans with tragic news on a regular basis. Gunmen identify soft targets in diverse settings, from concerts in Las Vegas to church services in small towns.

it should be clear to you that there is no place safe from the bad intentions of the deranged, disgruntled, and politically-motivated. Vehicular attacks, bombings, shootings, even stabbings indicate that we’re likely to be in for a rough ride in the future.

You might think that the “successes” achieved of late by active shooters are random occurrences. New records for casualties, however, show there is a blueprint that is being refined to deadly effect.

The selection of soft targets is becoming a science, and is leading to higher numbers of deaths and injuries. If those with bad intentions are getting better at creating mayhem, it stands to reason that our society must get better at thwarting those intentions. Here are six ways that would, in my opinion, decrease the number of shooter incidents  (and casualties):

  1. Improve security in areas at risk. I would define an “area at risk” as just about anywhere where a crowd of people would gather. Better protection at malls may be a matter of hiring more trained personnel, but establishing a safety team in other places, such as a church or workplace, can increase the level of vigilance and identify threats early.
  2. Establish volunteer safety officers in rural areas and small towns where there may not be law enforcement and emergency medical personnel just around the corner. These persons should have training in security, firearms, and first aid for bleeding wounds. If there are volunteer fire departments, while not trained volunteer safety departments?
  3. Instill a culture of situational awareness in our society. Situational awareness is a state of calm, relaxed observation of factors that might indicate a threat. These are called “anomalies”; learning to recognize them can identify someone who may have bad intentions. Situational awareness also involves always having a plan of action when a threat occurs, even if it’s as simple as making a note of the nearest exit at a concert. Seems like common sense, but in these days of smartphone distractions, many are oblivious of their surroundings.
  4. Teach our citizens to avoid the natural paralysis that occurs in an unexpected event. This paralysis occurs as a result of “normalcy bias”, the tendency to discount risks because most days proceed in a certain standard manner; we assume that today will be the same. By teaching simple courses of action such as the Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide, Fight” triad, the decision-making process may be more intuitive and more rapidly implemented. This is more effectively taught and ingrained at a young age.
  5. Teach our students simple first aid strategies to stop bleeding, the most likely cause of death in these scenarios. Rapid action by bystanders is thought to decrease the number of deaths from hemorrhage. Add “Reduce” hemorrhage to “Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic” as part of school curriculum, and lives might be saved.
  6. Provide first aid kits for bleeding in public venues that can be accessed by those at the scene. With supplies, the Good Samaritan will be more likely to save a life. I predict that these kits, already on the market, will be fixtures on the wall next to the fire extinguisher in the uncertain future.

Despite the above recommendations, our response as a nation has been to do little to correct the problem. I say that era must end. Let’s stop being “soft” targets. We must forsake the notion that shootings are just part and parcel of the New Normal, and begin the process by which we change our attitude and level of vigilance, not in isolated cases, but as a society.

I’m not an official with the Department of Homeland Security, but I know that there are more active shooter events in our future. A prepared nation wouldn’t be invulnerable to attacks, but its citizens would have a better chance to survive them.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton
Dr. Alton


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Multi-person Kit for Bleeding
Multi-person Kit for Bleeding


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