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Train to be a First-responder

Life is a war. Not just in some far off place, but right here, right now. Violence and lawlessness are on the increase. Those who argue otherwise are kidding themselves.


If a mass shooting were to go down at your school or place of work, what would you do?

"I don't know," you might say. "Run or hide or something? The guy's gotta gun...maybe several. What can I do? If something like that happens, I'm going to do whatever I can to get away."

But what of the shooter?

"Him? I'll let the police deal with him. They're trained to deal with such things. I'm not."


Regarding the above, I think most people would respond similarly. And, in most instances, I would agree whole-heartedly. If such a situation were to go down, do whatever you can to survive. (If something in you says, "I want to do more," keep reading!)

Every human being is equipped with a sympathetic nervous system that kicks in when faced with a life or death situation. It's the fight or flight response, and it compels us instictively to run, hide, or fight for our lives.

Run: In the hypothetical scenario above, running may save your life, but it probably won't save anyone else unless you're running fast enough, and in the right direction, with other people following you.

Hide: Hiding may save your life, too, but, like running, it probably won't save anyone else unless they follow you, hide where you do, and don't give up your position to the assailant.

Fight: Fighting may stop the shooter, but it may get you killed or injured in the process.

While any of the above responses may or may not be successful, only the fight response has the potential of ending or interuputing an assailant's ability to carryout his plan. Yes, running and hiding until the police arrive (which could take as long as ten to fifteen minutes) is a valid (and recommended) strategy for preserving your life. But it won't help those around you. At least, not directly. Just so I'm being clear here, I will never fault anyone for choosing to run or hide in reaction to an active shooter scenario. For the untrained, if you can run or hide, do so! Again, do whatever it takes to survive!

For those of you who feel something rising up inside (and you know who you are) that says something like, "If only I could do more. If only I could stop the attacker from killing not just me but others..." I have a suggestion for you. It may even be a mandate of sorts: train.

Train to become a Protector...maybe even a First-responder. A Protector is one who engages with a threat not just to protect himself (or herself) but those around him. A First-responder is a Protector who, quite simply, goes first in his efforts to take down (or take out) an an assailant. While several Protectors may ultimately respond, it's the First-responders who galvanize the Protectors to action. First-responders may or may not be successful; unfortunately, many are killed in their attempts. I consider Protectors and First-responders to be some of the most selfless creatures walking the face of the planet. Personally, I want to be a Protector/First-responder. It's one of the two primary roles of a Warrior:

  1. Protector

  2. Provider

To become a Protector, you must train to be one. This means, devoting considerable time and resources to learning how to identify and engage with various threats. In the military, the acronym OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) is used to describe the general steps in dealing with a threatening situation. It also prescribes the four main tenets of a crisis response training program:

Observe. You must train in how to spot a threat before the action begins. How many times have you heard someone on the news say, "I saw this guy carrying a shotgun as he walked up to the building, but I didn't think anything of it." (Are you kidding me?! I've actually heard those very words multiple times throughout my life in the aftermath of a public shooting. Given the greater public awareness of mass-shootings these days, it is hoped most people won't respond so mindlessly.) In the Observe component, what I'm talking about here is picking up on body language, demeanor, gate, etc. Those getting ready to commit violence often display what I like to call "somatic tells." A tell is an indicator (how someone's voice sounds, how he's positioning his body, what he's carrying with him, etc.) that tells you something isn't right or that something bad is about to happen. If something doesn't look or feel right, that's because it isn't. Your gut feelings of uneasiness are an indicator of your intuition picking-up on the "tells" of a situation. Because that concept is really important, I'm going to repeat what i just wrote: If something doesn't look or feel right, that's because it isn't. Your gut feelings of uneasiness are an indicator of your intuition picking-up on the "tells" of a situation.

Orient. You must train in how to orient yourself to what you've observed and to quickly identify options/opportunities available to you. A part of this is understanding completely who you are (your strengths, your limitations, your current mental state, your experience, the weapons you have with you, the tactics and strategies you have available to you, etc.) and where you are (in relation to the attacker, those around you, places of exit and refuge, etc.).

Decide: You must train in setting split-second goals and making split-second decisions. Learn to set goals and devise tactics in the heat of battle. Hesitating may get you killed. Going off half-cocked may get you killed, too.

Act. You must train in implementing specific, well-thought-out responses. The actions needed to take down an armed assailant often require a team of people to implement (just look at the US Navy SEAL teams). This is where team training (at your business, school, or place of work) may be very helpful.

Train to become a Protector and, over time, settle within yourself your commitment to be a First-responder. In any type of active shooter response, as I wrote above, a team approach is usually needed; often, all it takes just one First-responder to galvanize other Protecters (even those who don't know each other). This is what happened aboard United Flight 93 during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Knowing they were probably going to die anyway, several passengers and crew banded together to take back Flight 93 from the four Al-Qaeda terrorists, who'd hijacked the plane for the express purpose of crashing it into the US Capital Building. During the struggle, the plane went down in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. While everyone on board was killed, no one on the ground was. I consider that an amazing testament to the Protectors on-board that day. Only God knows how many lives they saved. Warriors they were...every one of them! In response, I bow my head in reverence, look to God, and ask Him to help me become more like them. Perhaps, you'll begin this day to ask for something similar in your life.

God's peace to you...


IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):

Mondays: Meditative Prayer

Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline

Fridays: Martial Arts Practice


The Life You Were Born to Live

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