June 06, 2020, 03:59:31 pm

A Cadet in an Active Shooter Incident

Started by Stonewall, February 16, 2016, 10:32:53 pm

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I posted this as a reply to the ongoing "Active Shooter" thread, and decided it needs to be its own thread.

Back when it was published on CadetStuff it had images and stuff.  Fortunately I copied, pasted, and saved it before they went offline.

Now, for your viewing pleasure...

A Cadet in an Active-Shooter Incident
February 2013

James N is an active duty Air Force officer with multiple combat deployments in support of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations worldwide. His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other entity.

It is 8:00am on a Tuesday morning and you are in math class dragging yourself through an algebra quiz that you are not prepared for. As you plot a parabola you ask yourself the time-honored question: "When the heck am I ever going to need this?!" Answer: never. But I had to plot parabolas, so now you do too.

One question that we as cadet program members need to ask ourselves is: does our status as cadet program members change anything about how we must or should act in a mass violence event? I believe that it does. Not because of any regulatory guidance from our program staff, but because of a simple philosophical truth: when we volunteered to wear the uniform of our country, we took on a duty to protect others. I also believe that the training you receive in cadet programs makes you uniquely valuable in a mass violence event.

I want to be abundantly clear here: this does not mean I think you should take a weapon to school, and it doesn't mean I think you should be in a rush to take a bullet for your country and classmates. Editor's note: that goes double for us here at CadetStuff.org.
So, what does it mean? It means that you can and should be part of the solution, and apply good Operational Risk Management to the possibility of a mass violence event at your school. My goal here is to teach you how to think about handling violence in school, rather than what to think. If you want a checklist of actions to take, talk to your teachers, school security, and local law enforcement. Consider the guidance that the Department of Homeland Security has given us here.

Operational Risk Management, or ORM, is how the military analyzes and handles the risks we take every day. Before I fly a combat mission, or before my brothers in the Army run a training day on the range, we sit down and do a deliberate assessment to consider what could go wrong and what we can do about it. The first step is to identify hazards. Consider that mass-violence events do not all play out the same. Foreign terrorists are a different type of hazard from disturbed students who are also different from inner-city gang members. Each type of attacker has different goals and different tools.

Then assess the risk. Assessing risk is a two-part endeavor: first you have to consider how likely the hazard is, then you have to consider how severe the hazard is. So, first let's ask: what are the chances of a mass-violence event happening at your school? The odds are pretty darn small. You are much more likely to die in a car accident on your way to prom than face a shooter. That should shape some of your decisions. Next, ask yourself: if a mass-violence event happens, how bad can it get? Pretty darn bad. The severity of an active-shooter is why we need to take it so seriously and why it is getting so much attention right now.

The next step is to consider risk control measures. In other words, what can we do to make a mass-violence event less likely and what can we do to reduce the carnage if we fail to prevent it?

To make a mass-violence event less likely, we have to catch the guy before he starts shooting. That is not an easy task. Lots of people say and do unusual and even startling things but are harmless -- and some real bad guys are very careful not to tip their hands before the attack. A good rule of thumb is, "If you see something, say something." When in doubt, let your parents and your teacher know if you suspect someone may be preparing an attack. To help you sort out the threat from the background noise, consider the Air Force Office of Special Investigations' list of indicators that an attack may be in progress.

Once a mass-violence event starts, the only way to make it less severe is to stop it or slow the attack. Lots of people have opinions about what you should do once the shooting starts. Again, I think you should review the DoHS material in the link above and talk to your local experts. But consider these ideas:

•  Get the emergency call out. Law enforcement needs good, timely information so that they can effectively challenge the attacker. If you have your cell phone with you, use it. Call 911, and be prepared to both follow their directions and volunteer information that might be helpful. Consider that in any tactical situation, the good guys will be looking for SALUTE information on the bad guys. SALUTE is a military memory-jogging acronym for SIZE, ACTIVITY, LOCATION, UNIFORM, TIME, EQUIPMENT. It is not a perfect checklist, but helping the police fill in those blanks might help speed up their response and save lives. It might sound like this: "Hello my name is James and I am reporting multiple gunshots at Alta Loma High School. I am in room #123 on the North East corner of the campus, with 30 other students. I can see 2 shooters moving together across the quad and shooting at kids in the quad, they are wearing white t-shirts and black cargo pants, the shooting started about a minute ago and I can see a lot of people hurt, the shooters have rifles and they are wearing some kind of vests." Do not expose yourself to fire just to get a look at the attacker, or to get to the phone.

•  Have some tools at hand. You cannot and should notbring a weapon to school. With that said, I am not aware of any rule against having a trauma first aid kit in most schools and work places. Ask your school staff if the first aid kits in your classrooms are stocked with trauma supplies such as QuikClot, Tourniquets, and pressure bandages. Ask a member of the school staff to look through the classroom first aid kits with you so you can both be familiar with their contents in an emergency.

•  Get trained. Get the most advanced emergency medical training you can. Take a basic first aid class, take an EMT or First-Responder class, and then take a Tactical Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support Class. Consider asking medics at your local military base to teach a Tactical Combat Casualty Care course to you and other cadets. Apply common sense and good judgment about employing your skills within your scope of training, and do not expose yourself to fire to do so.

Notice a theme yet? I am not talking about fighting the bad guy. Odds are very small, even in a mass-violence event, that you will even see the bad guy. However, you are very likely to see injured people who are stuck waiting for paramedics to come to them, and the paramedics will be waiting until law enforcement can make the scene safe enough to enter. That means that if a classmate is next to you and bleeding out, you either need to make the scene safe through intervening with the attacker, or evacuate the casualty to safety, or keep her from bleeding out until the paramedics can get to her. I think we owe it to William Sanders to know hemorrhage control.

Certainly, there is more we can do than just try to stop the bleeding. At least I hope so. I don't have all the answers. I do know that for me, personally, the only wrong answer is the one that lets a killer go on killing unchallenged. Remember, that does not mean you need to be the one who challenges him; let a solid door do that for you. If you have a clear line of escape, by all means use it. Considering that most modern high schools are fenced in better than that detention facility in Zero Dark Thirty, though, that might not be an option.

If you are going to hide, consider the difference between cover and concealment - cover objects can stop bullets, concealment only stops line of sight. Locking and barricading the classroom door is a solid idea, but you might also consider what to do if he breaches that door. Consider that a fire extinguisher might provide some distraction and reach, at least long enough to facilitate a rush on the attacker. I don't like the idea of telling you whether or not to fight. I don't like the idea of using textbooks or fire extinguishers against a guy with a gun. If you must fight, gang up on him with a class of people, and engage with an overwhelming level of commitment and ferocity. You are fighting for your life. You MUST turn the tables through SPEED, SURPRISE, and VIOLENCE OF ACTION, to the point the attacker has to fight for his own life.

One final thought: you need to get smart on this subject. We owe it to the victims to know how each of these attacks started, what tactics the perpetrators used, what indicators the attackers gave off, and how the attacks were ultimately stopped. We now have a wealth of information about these attacks. There are links below that can help guide your research. Note the timeline of each attack compared to the number of casualties. Also note that at Columbine, Mumbai, and Norway, explosives were used. Once you get smart on it, help us come up with solutions. I put some ideas into this article, now I want to hear your better ideas.



Get to the Chemistry Lab.

The stuff you can put together there can be pretty awesome.


Quote from: JeffDG on February 16, 2016, 10:58:20 pm
Get to the Chemistry Lab.

The stuff you can put together there can be pretty awesome.

Will I need a mullet?


Quote from: Fubar on February 17, 2016, 01:30:03 am
Quote from: JeffDG on February 16, 2016, 10:58:20 pm
Get to the Chemistry Lab.

The stuff you can put together there can be pretty awesome.

Will I need a mullet?

What you do with fish on your own time is your business.
You can't take the sky from me. Also, I can kill you with my brain. No power in the 'verse can stop me.


Quote from: Garibaldi on February 17, 2016, 02:21:34 am
Quote from: Fubar on February 17, 2016, 01:30:03 am
Quote from: JeffDG on February 16, 2016, 10:58:20 pm
Get to the Chemistry Lab.

The stuff you can put together there can be pretty awesome.

Will I need a mullet?

What you do with fish on your own time is your business.

Just bring your own duck tape... >:D
C/Maj Steve Garrett



Good post.  Useful and thoughtful.

The FBI report released November 2015 was informative.  A very high proportion of active shooter events occurred in schools (K-12, College), malls, and similar places where cadets are likely to be present.  Frankly, youth are also likely to poke around in places where gang activity could occur.  I have certainly seen this here in my little city located in PCR.   Situational awareness, an understanding of cover vs concealment, some basic 1st aid, and mental preparation for the unlikely, potentially lethal, and very real possibilities life may bring is, IMHO appropriate for CAP cadets of any age, as well as for SM.