When Things Go Right: A View From A different Angle

When things go wrong and terrible things happen, the things that happened correctly can sometimes get lost in the trauma of the event it self and the following anguish. I’m speaking about mass shooting events in this case.

I will be referring to the recent Colorado clinic shooting, but I will be referring to it as ‘The event’, because as horrendous as it was, it needs to be treated in an objective manner in order  to be able to parse it’s lessons while not getting mired in ethics.

While the event itself was unfortunately not unique, the news coverage of the the precautionary measures put into place by the clinic before the event and actions of the staff during the event was. In the past, stories of ‘lucky’ people who got away or the unusual individual who took heroic action were almost always the norm.

News coverage of failed precautions are also common. The publication Charli Hebdo had a full time guard at the front door (which was always locked) and an access control system. The press made sure to let us know that those measures failed. Granted, the two mentioned attacks were carried out by completely different types of individuals/ groups, I’m mainly trying to highlight the medias’ focus.

The federal government regularly runs television spots urging citizens to have a disaster preparedness plan for natural disasters. My home state of NJ also runs televising spots urging citizens ‘If you see something, say something’. Unlike the federal spots, NJ is obviously referring to terrorism even though it is never directly mentioned, but simply alluded to through video footage in the TV spots. These two suggestions are a very good start. Very much like charity, security begins at home.

My last blog post questioned the need for and acceptance of security, including CCTV in a medical environment. I feel that security is needed in any place where professionals come into contact with the public, any where people congregate; like entertainment venues, schools, shopping malls and on city streets. Obviously, soft targets are low hanging fruit for terrorists, and garner the most media attention. There are many other places to consider, but I’m not trying to create a laundry list of possibilities.

Many work places and schools now have emergency training for ‘Active Shooter’ situations and practice for those situations just as they would fire alarm drills. Planned Parenthood (regardless of your feelings about them and their activities) have actual guidelines about clinic protective procedures. Most of their clinics follow those guidelines. The Colorado clinic had many things right: number one is a trained and aware staff. They have the responsibility for the persons under there roof and care. They also had procedures to follow and they practiced them. They had areas of safe refuge with solid doors. They had a security system that included panic buttons and cameras that were viewable from outside of the clinic for police to use.

Planned Parenthood did not just come up with these procedures out of the blue, their clinics have been the targets of violence for many years. Our entire population is now a target for violence and we need to develop security procedures for ourselves, our homes, our work places and our entertainment places.

I don’t want a ‘Police Surveillance State”. I do want individual people and organizations to take the initiative and start planning for those times when things go terribly wrong. The government can protect the forest, but sometimes not the individual trees. That may be up to us, as we are those trees.

Here is a rule of thumb if an attack occurs in your vicinity: Run and leave if you can, help those around you. Shelter in place and help those around you. As a last resort, fight back, helping those around you. You may find your self suddenly in a leadership role if you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, to quote someone famous.



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