(Bill Worth was requested to submit an article as an Op-Ed piece for Svenska Dagblaten Sweden’s largest newspaper the day after the Pulse Nightclub shooting)
Early on the morning of June 12th 2016 a lone gunman entered a bustling nightclub in Orlando Florida to kill as many revelers as possible. So what is America’s response? We ask irrelevant questions and blame everyone but ourselves.
Was it an act of terror? Was the shooter a Muslim? Was the shooter associated with a radical Islamic terror organization? Was it a hate crime? Were the guns used obtained legally? Why don’t we ban all guns?
None of these questions or speculations matter. It does not matter who the attacker was or if he was part of any radical group. It does not matter what guns were used or if he obtained them legally. What matters is that the nightclub and the people who died were not prepared to react to a terror attack. I would like to ask the one question that no one probably will: “Why are Americans so unprepared to respond to an act of terror?” We Americans live in a fantasy world and believe that “An act of terrorism will never happen here”; how soon we forget the horror of 9/11 and the weekly active shooter events that occur across the United States. We Americans do not seem to understand terrorism. We are so secure in the belief that our military power will protect us from the evil that exists in the rest of the world that we forget that our military is ineffective against terrorism. We are a proud and arrogant nation.
Terrorism exists not in the battlefields of the world but in our neighborhoods. The root of terrorism is terror; terror that causes fear and impacts our lives. Terrorism is not about winning battles; terrorism is about impacting lives. How many people will avoid going to a nightclub tonight? How many people will stay home and not venture out to pursue their regular social activities? If we allow terrorism to negatively impact our lives; terrorism wins. Succumbing to terrorism is not an option. We must fight back.
The key to surviving an act of terrorism is by learning how to prepare and respond. All of us need to be vigilant to those things that seem out of place in the world around us. When a disastrous violent event occurs we need to act quickly. Can I escape? Did you look for all the exits once you entered? Can I hide? Hiding is usually not a good option because you are a stationary target. Am I forced to fight? In the Orlando nightclub attack the shooter had to reload his empty gun several times. There were some seconds when those in the nightclub could have attacked him while he was vulnerable while reloading. Unfortunately, no one knew enough to fight back. Standing up against violence is frightening but huddling in a bathroom while someone shoots you is just unacceptable.
Every business owner and every individual must find ways to fight back against terror through professional preparation and the will to survive. Terror wins if we do nothing.
Bill Worth Managing Partner
Countermeasure Consulting Group: providing expert consultation and training to organizations and individuals on how to prepare for and prevent acts of violence
Several months ago, one well trained police officer managed to defeat two assailants armed with high powered rifles in Garland Texas. These two radicals were determined to cause as much death and destruction as possible. The violent ideology they subscribed to brought them hundreds of miles to this convention center in Texas where their fanatical belief boiled over and ended with their blood in the street. As an aside I’d like to extend kudos to the brave officer who saved countless lives. Bravo!
That being said what about your place of business? What if these two nut jobs showed up at your front door with high powered rifles because they didn’t like the XYZ your company sells? What if it’s not two radical extremists but good old Bob with a handgun who was just fired yesterday? Or Jim with a pipe bomb who’s been despondent about his recent messy divorce? The convention center in Texas spent $10,000 or more to provide several layers of armed security just for this one day event. How much does your company spend for prevention, mitigation and response for an Active Assailant attack like the one in Texas or from Bob or Jim? What is the quality of the training provided? Does your training (if any) reflect the new response techniques or is it the outdated and tired Hide and Hope (you don’t get killed) Shelter in Place nonsense? Don’t get me wrong, there may be a time to hide if there is an assailant nearby BUT do not default to hiding as your first response.
What would you do if you think you heard a gunshot? Ignore it? (It couldn’t really be a gunshot) Walk down the hall to check it out? (You may end up dead) If you think you heard a gunshot you need to REACT! Get Out! Whatever direction the noise came from, you go the other. Grab your cell phone, encourage others to leave but don’t wait for them. You need to go. You need to survive for you and your family. Hopefully you’ve pre-planned your escape route and know where you’re going. Get out and away from the building. Now call 911, render aid to those around you and keep a look-out for any threats. It can take up to 14 minutes for the police to arrive; most Active shooter events are over in 10 minutes or less.
OSHA rules require your company to provide a “safe workplace” and the training necessary to respond to any number of dangerous situations. The Active Assailant/Shooter event is a relatively new phenomenon that some HR departments have yet to address. Ask questions about yours; demand better training; do your research and hire the top experts in the field to bring their knowledge and expertise to every one of your employees.
“When Seconds Count…What’s your Plan?”
The concept of creating a “Just Say Go” program grew out the words of this father’s blog post from 2013 just after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. We owe him a debt of gratitude for planting the seed that we hope will grow and flourish into an organization that will work to prepare ALL of our precious school children and staff to “Just Say Go”. Thank you!
In 1982 when asked by a young schoolgirl what to do when someone offered her drugs, First Lady Nancy Reagan replied “Just Say No.” These words soon became ubiquitous and the catchy marketing slogan for a “Just Say No” campaign was taught to millions of school children in the United States. Multiple health organizations say that it’s never too early to talk to our kids about drugs. Most of these groups recommend different approaches depending on the age of the child. We talk to our kids about all sorts of dangers in the world. As the father of a 5-year-old son, I have talked to him about who is allowed to touch him in certain places on his body. I also tell him to never to talk to strangers. Parents of teenage children have to talk with kids about the dangers of texting when driving. These conversations are sometimes difficult to have and often uncomfortable for both parent and child. But how many of us talk to our kids about what to do if there is an Active Shooter situation? And what should we say to them?
My father taught me at an early age that the world was divided into “good guys and bad guys.” This was likely the inspiration for me to pursue a career in law enforcement. I have tried to pass this along to my son. I know that as he gets older, and his mental and philosophical capabilities increase, he will begin to see all of the moral ambiguities in the world, and he, like all adults, will realize that sometimes the world is not divided easily into “good guys and bad guys.” But at 5, it is easy to tell him that the police are good guys, and that you never, never want to be a bad guy. When we play Legos or other games, he always wants to be the good guy, and this interaction with him has allowed me to stress that sometimes bad guys do awful things, and that’s why the good guys are here. The good guys catch the bad guys. But I have never thought about telling him what to do when confronted by a bad guy with a gun.
As every tragic school shooting unfolds, it compounds our duty as parents to talk to our children about what to do in the event of an Active Shooter. I have talked to my son about good guys and bad guys. But I have never talked to him about what to do if he hears gunfire at school, or if he sees someone with a gun while out in public. The standard Active Shooter response philosophy given now by experts is “Run, Hide, Fight,” or some variation of that recognizing that this must be explained in nuances with regard to children and others with special needs. But, I would never teach my 5 year old the “Fight” option as he is physically incapable of performing this option effectively. It is also difficult to teach him the shelter in place portion; “Hide”. The only real option left is the “Flight” option, which is easy to teach a 5 year old. I can easily tell him to run if ever he feels in danger.
As parents, we obviously don’t have all of the answers. Every parent should do and say the things to their child that they feel is appropriate for their situation and according to their own beliefs. Regardless of a parent’s beliefs on gun control, our desire to keep kids safe is universal. The causes of a person’s commission of horrific acts of violence to children and other innocent people are irrelevant at the moment a child is faced with that horrific violence. This is a very difficult topic that no one looks forward to discussing with their child. But it should be just as important as “Don’t talk to strangers,” the dangers of drugs and of texting and driving. The “Just Say Go” conversation is also one that we should all discuss at work. Almost all companies and agencies now provide some level of Active Shooter training to employees. We must also share the concept of “Just Say Go” to our kids and families.
Bill Gage spent 12 years in the United States Secret Service at the Washington DC office (the White House) with six years on C.A.T., the service’s Counter Assault Team. During his tenure protecting the President; Bill had the opportunity to visit several active shooter sites and see first-hand the devastation these events wrought upon the families and communities. He is currently a Law Enforcement officer in Leesburg VA and a partner/subject matter expert for Countermeasure Consulting Group.
Countermeasure Consulting Group’s high powered cast of Subject Matter Experts (SME) have examined, witnessed and analyzed every aspect of the phenomenon now called an Active Shooter/Assailant Event (ASE). Our team of SME’s includes law enforcement officers with a variety of experience to include S.W.A.T., United States Secret Service Counter Assault Team, top tier military operators with covert, intelligence, and investigative service experience as well as certified firearms instructors and top notch combat/trauma medical professionals.
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