Active Shooter and What I Learned From My "Day Job"
Yes, I am a yoga instructor, I am a runner, but I also have spent endless and tireless hours in the last year working on a project at what I call my “day job” trying to create a defense against active shooter. I truly enjoy my job, there is a mission, and a vision, and so much meaningfulness behind what we do. My passion for the work that the team I have been honored to work with over the last year has become even stronger in the last two weeks.
In the last two weeks, there have been 3 shootings
A total of 27 people have been lost in just the last 2 weeks. As a country, we know that these are not the first. In fact, there has been an increase in events like these, studies show in the last 14 years, these events have more than doubled. America has witnessed some of the locations that are most sacred to us as humans become spaces of unimaginable chaos, trauma and loss. The emotional and economic impact of these events are considerable.
We feel fear. We don’t understand “why”. It is hard to comprehend what could motivate an individual to have to harm others. We cannot imagine the loss and pain that victims loved ones feel.
It is natural for us to want to gravitate towards our loved ones, hunker down, protect our future and young children maybe even avoid events and crowds, like concerts and marathons.
We could even expand the locations we avoid to include very relevant locations within our communities, like schools, places of worship, and even yoga studios (I feel my throat tighten and my belly clench every time I think about it).
I’m not telling you what to do, but please, don’t do that. Don’t let the fear win. Do not alter your behavior to avoid and eliminate activities or normal routine living that create joy and happiness for you, mindfulness and steadiness, things that bring you back to your morals and peel away the layers.
There are other options, and they are better ones. I promise.
Here is what we know
We know that currently, we cannot stop these events from occurring. Also, because of the incredibly brave humans that have survived events like this, and talk about it, we are smarter. There are lessons that we have learned, and therefore we can educate and help each other.
We also know that while these events are most common in areas of commerce, business, and malls etc., they can actually happen anywhere. We see events like this scattered throughout the country, and not just in urban locations, it does happen in smaller rural towns as well.
I’ve had the very humbling experience of seeing one of my heroes Michele Gay, a mother and a teacher, speak. She lost her daughter in the Sandy Hook School shooting. One of the key messages she delivers when she speaks is the common mind-set of “not me”, “not here”, “not us”. Michele has created Safe and Sound Schools, in her daughter’s honor.
I’m not suggesting these messages are easy for any of us to deliver, they are not. What I am hoping we all consider though, is how we can work together, because it can save lives, and it can make a difference.
Together, we can prepare. We can also respond together, and recover as a community
In my opinion, it isn’t a matter of whether or not we can afford to do it, it is actually, can we afford to not do it?
We have done this before as a country. There have been other threats, that we have educated ourselves to become fearless in the face of. We can do it again, but we have to talk and communicate to each other about it.
We have created safeguards for ourselves against events like fires and bomb threats, we created these safeguards when we travel, on airplanes, we have created processes around these things, and we have practiced, and practiced, and practiced them. Yes, there will always be the unexpected, but, that doesn’t mean we don’t try. We are humans, we are resilient, and we always try.
Empower yourself, rather than live in fear. The impact of these events go beyond the first responders and the victims and their families. You, as a citizen owe it yourself, your community, and your loved ones to educate yourself on what you can do, if you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstances of an event like this.
Here are some things that you can consider:
- Ask your place of employment if here is an active shooter plan in place, and advocate for a drill or practice at least annually.
- If you are a business owner, or responsible for the care of commercial real estate, consider being in touch with your local first responders (fire, police, ems). Ensure that your building has recently been inspected, and that local first responders know how to get in and out of your building.
- Study up on videos like “Run. Hide. Fight”, and “Stop the Bleed” so that you can assist your community (see links below)
- If you want to “go the extra mile” maybe even empower yourself with a First Aid Training
For a deeper understanding and even more information, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently release a standard NFPA 3000 – Standard for Active Shooter and Hostile Event Response Program. For more information on this standard, please see the link below.
Lastly, to listen to one of my good friend, co-workers and subject matter expert on NFPA 3000, John Montes, check out the recent interview from WGBH that he did.
Fear is a natural human response, but what sets us aside and makes the human race so incredible is that we are smart enough to work through the fear. We have to work together, and together, we are always stronger. Keep showing up, keep moving forward, and keep empowering yourself.