When shots rang out in Walmart on Grant Street in Thornton on Nov. 1, it became the latest of public shootings as it left three people dead. The crowded store turned into “mass chaos,” as a …
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When shots rang out in Walmart on Grant Street in Thornton on Nov. 1, it became the latest of public shootings as it left three people dead.
The crowded store turned into “mass chaos,” as a police spokesman put it.
One month prior a gunmen opened fire at a concert in Las Vegas. Since then, there have been public shootings in Texas and New Mexico.
Julianna Lochte works for the American Red Cross and has tips for people who find themselves in these situations — including to not assume this will never happen to you.
Lochte, businesses and organizational preparedness manager for Colorado and Wyoming Region, calls these events “paralyzing” because they frightening.
“Let’s not let this just live in a scary place, let’s talk about this, let’s be prepared, let’s make a decisions as a community and as individuals today to be prepared to take action should we find ourselves in one of these events and what that action might be is to understand what our options are,” Lochte said.
One of the first steps Lochte recommends is having a conversation about what to do in those situations.
Whether it’s at a workplace, church or other setting, she advised talking about what to do to get to safety and help others. Lochte provides free training for businesses and organizations through the Red Cross as part of Save A Life Denver — a coalition of the Red Cross, Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership, Denver Health Paramedics, and Denver Police Foundation.
“This is a very survivable hazard,” Lochte said.
But people need to have a plan.
“I think people would just rather think it’s not going to happen to them,” Lochte said. “What I find interesting about that, though, are children are talking and dealing with this in schools all the time.”
She said that she often finds business leaders concerned that the conversation would be upsetting to their staffs, but if addressed properly it can be empowering.
Run, hide, fight
There are three basic options covered in training: run, hide or fight.
“The one thing you can’t do is choose in advance,” Lochte said.
However, there are strategies for each step, she said.
In running, she said people need to have two or three escape routes in mind because their primary exit may be where the danger is.
“You want to try to be a little bit stealth,” Lochte said.
She said that when people choose to flee, there are a few things to remember like it’s OK to help others but not if they slow you down, don’t move wounded people, keep hands empty so police don’t think you’re carrying a weapon and make sure running through open spaces don’t make you suddenly and easy target.
“If you’re behind locked and barricaded doors, your chance of survival is almost perfect,” Lochte said.
But fleeing is not always an option.
“Running is a good option if you can run and escape from the situation entirely … but you could be a sprinter, but you could also be injured the day this happens,” Lochte said.
When hiding, she said it’s important to distinguish the difference between cover and concealment — cover is hiding behind or under something that would keep you safe from bullets (the better option) while concealment is simply being out of sight.
Fighting is another strategy, Lochte said it has a high success rate because attackers will often surrender if the challenge is difficult.
She also said fighting in groups is a good idea.
“The most important thing about fighting is you have to commit to your action,” Lochte said.
When a shooting takes place, victims are inevitable. That’s why Lochte also recommends a bleeding control kit on the premises. She said about a half can of soda (six ounces) worth of blood is the threshold to decide if the kit needs to be used. The kit includes gloves, gauze, pressure dressing, scissors, a tourniquet, a marker to write the time of the tourniquet and an instruction card. The Red Cross has 700 bleeding control kits to distribute to the community for free.
The training also reviews hands-only CPR.
“If you have two hands, you can save a life,” Lochte said.
She also noted that these are transferable skills — many people end up using these life-saving techniques in situations outside of an active shooter event.
Save A Life
Lochte calls the current Save A Life Denver program “2.0.” Its first iteration — now dubbed “1.0” — focused on getting automated external defibrillators in businesses and public places. Now, the coalition is working on getting the bleeding control kits distributed along with the active shooter response training.
“Just taking one step to get yourself prepared for this kind of hazard takes you immediately out of that fear-based zone and into knowing that you can do something to save your life and the lives of others, and it’s so empowering,” Lochte said.
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