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The ABC'S of Active Survival

Updated: Jan 6

Collectively, there’s a lot we can do to make this a safer and more peaceful world not only for our children, but also for our children’s children. It starts with us. On an individual level, one of the most important things we can do is learn how to protect ourselves and those in danger around us.


With the understanding of just a few basic steps, you can prepare yourself proactively for what threat might come your way. Solidify these steps in your mind so that in the unthinkable situation of a potential tragedy you’re able to effectively react with these ABC'S automatically.


Just as "stop, drop, and roll" became a simple and effective anthem to save lives if clothing caught fire, so too can these ABC’S quickly come to mind and play a pivotal role in your safety and protection. These are tenets that translate to a workplace, school, healthcare facility, place of worship, shopping mall, or any other location in which an active threat can be a danger.


The Department of Homeland Security advises those in danger to "Run. Hide. Fight." While we don’t disagree with these steps, active survival is different. Our ABC’S are more nuanced and provide clearer direction on what to do should you find yourself in harm’s way.


A - Avoid

The first step is to avoid. If you can safely do so, get to a safe room which is any place that can be locked or barricaded. If it’s possible, you should try to get to a safe area anywhere outside the building - from across the street to half a block away. If you can run without causing endangering sound, then run. Be keenly aware of your surroundings, moving away from harm. Leave your belongings behind. Things can be replaced; you can’t. After you are away from the threat, call 9-1-1 immediately.


B - Barricade

Hiding should never be a possibility for you. So, if you’re unable to flee, don’t hide - proactively lock or barricade the doors. Assess the door (does it swing inward or outward?), utilize the items in the room, and barricade the door accordingly. Once barricaded from harm, prepare to counter and identify secondary exits like windows or drywall.


If you are positioned in the room, make sure you stand next to the door, out of sight and prepared to use a weapon of opportunity.


C - Counter

If you’re next to the threat, countering might be your first option. If you are face-to-face with a threat, you may need to take action to disable, disarm and disorient. Use a weapon of opportunity (scissors, fire extinguishers, chairs) to disable and disarm. Throw items and get mobile to disorient.


Keep in mind that when you’re “disorienting” a gunman, you don’t have to “fight” - just think about how best to disorient the threat perhaps by throwing things (water bottles, books, shoes) or overloading his senses by running around screaming.


S - Survive

Even if you are severely injured, you are not dead. Immediately apply direct pressure to the wound with your hand or a pressure dressing. If a bleeding control kit is available, apply a hemostatic agent and pack the wound with gauze. If the bleeding persists, apply a tourniquet above the wound and tighten until the bleeding stops. If a bleeding control kit is not available, identify improved items including tampons or sugar for internal direct pressure. As well, you can use maxi pads as pressure dressings and belts as a tourniquets.


We hope mass shootings and similar types of tragedies are forever in the past. However, being prepared is of paramount importance. Memorizing these ABC'S is your first line of defense.


There are other proactive actions you can take. Always be aware of who and what is around you and if you see something, say something to an authority as soon as you can. As well, sign up to receive alerts to your cell phone or follow local municipality social media channels so that you are well-informed of emergencies or situations in your area. Read - don’t dismiss - those alerts if and when you receive them.


With increasing awareness for school safety, these are also important and proactive conversations to have with your family. Teaching children and teenagers to be aware of who or what is around them is an important lesson that should be taught early and often. As well, teach your children that police, fire, and safety officers are there to help them in the event of an emergency and that they can be trusted with information.


Families should also make emergency plans so that everyone knows what he or she would do if confronted with an active shooter or a crisis of this proportion. It doesn’t have to be a frightening conversation. Structure the conversation around the importance of being prepared just in case of an emergency.


Being proactive is an important decision and a personal responsibility. Even as one person, we have incredible power to protect ourselves and others if and when danger arises.


Lockdown International is dedicated and driven to provide clients with the knowledge, training, and products to be proactive in unexpected situations.


We partner with clients to create and implement custom proactive solutions based on their risk assessment. To learn more, please visit our Instructor Course.

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