According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the effectiveness of a basic tenet of active shooter training is being questioned and supplemented with more aggressive tactics. Run-Hide-Fight is an established response protocol to use in an active shooter scenario, which was introduced by the federal government in 2012 after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school.
The WSJ article discusses how some training companies instruct with new methods like using a replica handgun and asking participants, “Who would willingly grab that gun?” Other trainers have been reported to teach with even more assertive messages like, “Hiding alone will get you killed.” Some of the controversial workforce training tactics have had outcomes ranging from confusion to traumatized employees.
We have found in life-threatening emergencies, successful survival strategies start upstream from Run-Hide-Fight or any other response tactic. The most significant trait shared by survivors of potentially lethal situations is the ability to make the cognitive leap and accept the fact that their life is in danger. They are able to quickly act to save their life.
The human brain is wired to override the thought process of acknowledging a cataclysmic paradigm shift that is brought on by an attack or disaster. This is called normalcy bias. All people use past experiences to guide their understanding of the present and to anticipate the future; this bias toward “the normal” causes people to underestimate the possibility of crisis and be slow to grasp one when it occurs. Normalcy bias is a cognitive shortcut that helps our brain process normal stimuli; in an emergency it can be harmful.
Effective security training must first address overcoming normalcy bias during an emergency before any response tactic can be effective.
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