The staff at SafeDefend extends our deepest condolences to the families who lost a loved one during the attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured as they recuperate at home and in the hospital. We would like to also commend the civilians, officers and emergency personnel for their valiant efforts at stopping this atrocious action and securing the lives of the victims. There is no greater example of the American spirit than when people rise up to confront a crisis and persevere in the face of adversity.
At SafeDefend our goal is to prevent this type of calamity by working with communities across the country in order to educate people on the best practices for preparing and by providing a variety of tools and options for response to such an occurrence. Having a keen sense of situational awareness can dramatically increase your chances of remaining unharmed should something happen in a large crowd. Your personal safety and security can be accomplished with reasonable effort. There are a few principles that when followed we enhance your own sense of safety and prepare you should something happen.
Prior Planning is Critical
Prepare as you arrive by becoming familiar with the venue. Once you arrive at your seats or viewing area check for the closest exits and places of shelter. Often, the place we entered the venue is the one we intended to exit. In an emergency, this might not be the closest or even accessible exit, especially if everyone is heading that way as well. Understand where you are in the forum and look for areas of exit or shelter as you move around for concessions or personal relief. Realizing that getting outside is only the first step you should also prepare in advance where you are going to go once outside. Evacuating is the first thing you should consider when violence or a calamity occurs. Move with haste and purpose toward an exit being mindful of the distance between you the other people so you don’t get stuck in a crowd.
Observe Your Surrounding
Be alert to things that are out of the norm or unexpected. We tend to focus our attention on our friends and the event with little regard for those around us. Generally, people attending events act in a similar way. The crowd is there to enjoy the entertainment and participate in the activities. When a person is acting in a manner that is peculiar or nefarious we should report the activity to a person in authority. The event staff is working diligently to coordinate everyone’s safety but can’t monitor everything. Your concern is enough for them to investigate.
A lack of preparation leads to panic and indecision
The Department of Homeland Security uses the same basic principles of evacuation, sheltering, and take action. (Run, Hide, Fight) If something happens your plan to evacuate will enable you to initiate immediately without having to consider what to do. As you are attempting to leave you should consider what options you have to shelter or protect yourself if the circumstances change. If you weren’t initially able to flee and have secured a place of safety you should be considering options to reinitiate evacuation or defend yourself. At all times, your plans should adjust to the events as they unfold. Without a prior thought process, the typical reaction is to freeze from indecision or panic and run without considering the nature of the threat.
These events are generally fluid as the threat moves, police respond, and our location changes. We need to adapt to the environment and prepare for any eventuality. While the principles from the DHS are focused on a hostile event they can be adapted to other mass casualty events such as fire, structure failure, and weather disasters to name a few. The best advice is to think of what options are available to you based on your location, move away from danger, and take action to protect yourself.