Have you ever been out with your family when something starts to go sideways. You think to yourself, “man I wish I had talked to them about what to do.”

The 5-P’s

It is one of the oldest mantras, but it still relevant to this day…proper planning prevents poor performance. The “5-P’s” as they are sometimes called. Recently my family and I attended a beautiful service where we listed to a Gold Star mom recount the memory of her fallen son. It was over a major holiday and a foreign location to us. Given the totality of the situation; the major holiday, a large public building and bringing my family we took extra precautions. I regret waiting until the last minute to discuss them, but better late than never. There were three key points I covered. What to look for, what could happen and what we would do in an emergency.

Calmly move to the exits

These large facilities come with large parking areas. I picked a spot, close enough to the exit we could boogie to but  also afforded additional egress routes. Should we linkup at the vehicle our next movement would be to the next safe location. We got there early enough we could walk around and get a feel for the size and layout of the facility. It was very big so the first thing we our looking for are exits. Regardless of the reason why, identifying exits and multiple exits is a good idea. You are far more likely to experience a fire than a mass shooting so identify them in advance. Then we start people watching. You are looking for things that stand out and the funny thing was we stood out. We were overdressed for the crowd so it took some adjustments to pick up on other anomalies. What am I looking for? I’m looking for somebody who is doing the same thing as me only way more overtly. They are people watching, to make sure either their specific target is within range or there is sufficient targets to warrant their action.

Keeping it real

We talked about the three most likely scenarios. Beginning with a non-emergency, like a disturbance or disagreement. These could escalate for sure so staying out of the “blast” range is your go to move. Then there was an emergency such as a fire. The first thing to do is identify the danger and it’s proximity to those exits you scoped out earlier. I encourage folks to take action sooner rather than later. The worse thing that can happen is you return when the coast is clear. That leaves us with an attack. Whether isolated to one actor or multiple actors these are the worse case scenarios and all the more reason to discuss with your family.

Immediate danger

The first thing you have to do is determine is if you are in immediate danger that requires an immediate response. If so, you need to instruct your family the moment they see your gun come out to rapidly move away from you, preferably towards the primary exit. Don’t delay, don’t try to help, don’t engage, put distance between you and the attack site. If rounds are to be exchanged, you have to realize they will be directed at those with guns so move away. If you pick up on pre-attack cues there should be a code word used in a calm voice that solicits the same response. Move away without hesitation. When the code word is used, not only do you move away, but you move to the agreed upon rally point and await further instructions. Family members who can drive should have keys or at least a backup set hidden at the vehicle. As they are moving away they should be looking to put a something between them and the possible trajectory of bullets. While it is nice to seek cover it may not always be possible. It also implies family members understand what cover is and why it works.

Dead Space

If you have family members who cannot move or move slowly then you must move away from them in an effort to divert any fired projectiles. Good aggressive movement executed swiftly will provide adequate separation or dead space in a pinch. Once they have gotten away from the attack site it is a good idea to call police. It seems silly, but pay attention to what your family members are wearing. Especially those with guns so you can describe them to police as being the good guys. Teaching basic first aide, having a first aide kit either on you or in your vehicle would be additional considerations. How young is too young to talk to children, that will always be up to the parents. However, making a game out of how to apply a tourniquet or other tough subjects can be a good approach.

We live in dangerous times and failing to plan is planning to fail. I promise you this is peace of mind you hope you never have to employ, but if you do you will be eternally grateful.

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