Chandler: Hide, run and fight
After a 15-year-old went on a shooting rampage at Marshall County High School last week, Woodford Emergency Management (EM) Director Drew Chandler said he wondered how many kids wouldn’t be sitting at their dinner table that evening.
He also thought about how first responders and others there were handling the situation, and whether they needed any help from Central Kentucky. As it happened, they didn’t, but the tragedy that claimed the lives of two and injured many others was on Chandler’s mind when he spoke at Woodford Fiscal Court that night.
His message: there are federal resources that can save lives when things go horribly wrong.
A few days later, Chandler spoke at length about the sort of advice offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“I’m not a security professional, but I’ve been through enough DHS training to understand the core message that needs to be distributed,” Chandler said, adding that for “security-specific” questions, he’d defer to Versailles Police Chief James Fugate and Woodford Sheriff Johnny Wilhoit.
“ … These things happen. There are only so many things you can do individually, as a community, as a governmental entity, to prepare for something evil,” Chandler said.
Several years ago, DHS, FEMA and other law enforcement organizations began a campaign called “Run, hide and fight” designed to deal with a wide variety of life-threatening situations, from one-on-one attacks to mass shootings.
Among the advice offered in the “run” portion: Have an escape route planned, don’t worry about your belongings, and keep your hands visible so that you’re not mistaken by law enforcement for the attacker.
“The run thing really hits home because we’re instinctively creatures of habit. How many of us go to Kroger every week, usually on the same day, we walk in a door, we walk out the same door, and if the fire alarm went off, would we run for that same door or would we look for the nearest exit? Do we even know where the nearest exit is?” Chandler asked.
Another bit of advice related to the “run” part of the equation: Be aware of your surroundings.
If you aren’t able to escape, you can still hide, Chandler said.
“Obviously, being able to get out of an assailant’s view is not as good as being able to escape, but it’s a good second choice,” Chandler said.
Hiding behind a file cabinet or heavy door, blocking the attacker’s line of sight and making sure a cell phone doesn’t ring or vibrate can also save lives.
“Also, don’t hide together. People huddled in corners together make pretty big targets when somebody decides they want to do that kind of harm to others,” Chandler said.
If running and hiding aren’t options for someone who’s in imminent danger, fighting back may be the only chance, Chandler said.
“Don’t sit there and take it. Fight back. Commit to your actions. Don’t think about it, don’t delay. There are so many people who are capable of providing resistance that they’re no longer an easy target; that it complicates things. And I believe studies have shown that the path of least resistance is the way those things tend to unfold,” Chandler said.
Other tips include calling 9-1-1 if possible and following advice heard often in the years after 9-11: “See something, say something.”
“Every once in a while, you’ll see something that just looks out of place,” Chandler said.
He cited an example several years ago on North Main Street in which a compressed gas cylinder sat on the fence line next to St. Leo School.
“And people drove by that, day after day, week after week, month after month. And it turns out it was there for legitimate reasons, but what if that had been some kind of explosive gas in there rigged with some kind of charge? How many people would have noticed that cylinder being placed where kids are playing and thought to call and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right,’” Chandler said.
“Run, hide, fight” is part of a presentation Chandler gives called “You are the help until help arrives.” He said the EM department is adding more content from a campaign called “Stop the bleed” with advice that goes beyond active shooter situations. Meanwhile, Woodford
Ambulance Director Freeman Bailey and his crew give regular CPR training around the community that includes some advice on dealing with active shooter situations, Chandler said.
You can find out more about these campaigns on the websites of DHS and FEMA. To arrange a presentation here, you can call Woodford EM at 873-3170.