‘Duck and Cover’ is not the answer

Experts say that playing the victim can substantially decrease your survival odds in an active shooter scenario


“In Lock Out we are utilizing gross motor skills that do not require a key and that also advocate continually reinforcing the Lock Out or Lock Down effect by layering via barricading, bridging, tying off a door to a fixed object or using the tie off to create friction points, like jamming a straight chair leg or other object into a handicap approved door handle on a door that opens out, or stacking heavy objects in front of the door,” Baker says.

The second principle is Get Out, which is employed if lockdown fails or is not an option. Baker recommend locating your Get Out points, which is similar to the ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ mantra except that the DHS approach advocates doing so first. In his expert opinion using escape as a first option could put those that are in a somewhat safe and secure area in harm’s way.

"Our experience in training scenarios taught us that it is very difficult for people to tell where the shots are coming from. Because of this they may run into an area where the gunman is shooting,” Baker says. “The hide mantra that they teach is totally defensive and in the videos they state ‘Don’t corner yourself in where you cannot escape’. But right after stating that they show people hiding under their desks or in their cubicle areas. Again, this is conflicting messaging. We have seen repeatedly in Columbine (in the library), Virginia Tech (in the classrooms) and in Sandy Hook (in the classrooms) that hiding underneath desks only makes it easier for the attacker.

Quite literally the attacker was shooting ducks on a very close pond,” Baker continues. “We repeatedly tell our course attendees that it is okay to kneel to conceal yourself and get out of the line of fire, but do not put yourself in the fetal position.”

Baker went on to say that he instructs his students to kneel and maintain good posture so the mind does not start thinking defensively. He insists that once a person cradles into a fetal position they automatically assume the role of a helpless victim.

The final tenant of Baker’s program revolves around ‘Take Out’— which he teaches as a last resort. Students are taught to identify objects that they can fight back with if the attacker is able to make it into the room. Experience has demonstrated that in these types of situations a force of two or three people can be quite formidable against an attacker.
“It is good to remember that most shooters came there thinking everyone would act like good little victim. When this does not occur it dramatically affects their plan and the motivation for continuing the attack before implementing their escape strategy, which many times is suicide,” Baker says.

Obviously, no one plans to be the victim of an active shooter, and how one might act under the actual stress of a horrific circumstance like Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech is impossible to gauge. However well-intended our governments are in providing us survival tips and tactics in such cases, would it not be preferable for the politicians to keep an eye on remedying the societal cause and effect and not use the instrument of destruction as the monster in the closet?