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TTA Insight: Move, Evade, Defend

Move, Evade, Defend: Survival Strategy

Professional SWAT law enforcement teams have less than a 20% shoot-hit rate in real life. Active shooters have over a 90% shoot-hit rate. What’s the difference?

The answer is simple: easy targets. Even from a close distance it is very, very difficult to hit a moving target with a firearm… even with advanced tactics training. It is very, very easy to shoot someone huddled under a desk. Wait, isn’t it common practice during a lockdown to huddle together on the floor, under desks, and in corners?

Yes. See a problem?

Many individuals are not familiar with the history of “lockdown”. Lockdowns were started in the 1980’s within Los Angeles County School District. They were called “Drive-By shooting drills”. The drills were created in response to rampant gang activity in the area: simply put, drive by shootings were happening all the time and school staff wanted to be able to keep kids safe.

This new “Lockdown” strategy caught nation-wide attention. And before anyone realized what was happening, “Lockdowns” were considered the best response for ANY violent event… whether they were happening off-campus or not. No research was conducted. No tests were completed.

You’re a smart person. If you had a violent person at large in the community, unknown where they were except that they weren’t at your school or workplace, what would be a good response? Lockdown. Of course. Keep the area you know to be safe secure. And stay there.

But what happens if you instigate that same policy and apply it to all violent events… even the ones where a known threat is located on your campus? What is a good response then? Lockdown?

Unfortunately, the United States learned the hard way that Lockdown just doesn’t apply in all violent situations. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. When a violent intruder is already on your campus, or breaches your campus, lockdown is not just ineffective: it creates easy targets. It’s like locking yourself in a closet with someone trying to kill you. It creates a mass-casualty event.

From 2000 to 2013, the FBI conducted a study of active shooter events within the United states. They analyzed lockdown as a response and, based on their results, the Department of Homeland security released a new nation-wide best-practice response to active shooter situations. They recommended it for schools, hospitals, houses of worship… anywhere an active shooter might strike. What did they call this new, recommended program?

Run. Hide. Fight.

Not Lockdown.

Since 2013, the Run Hide Fight program has gained a lot of awareness and very little traction within communities. This is because Run Hide Fight is a fear based response.

I’ll tell you what I mean.

If I ran into your classroom or workplace and yelled, “RUN!!!” what would you do? You would stop thinking and you would start running. Your body would commit a gross motor skill while your brain was left behind, trying to catch up… creating dysfunction along the way.

If I ran into your classroom or workplace and yelled, “HIDE!!” or “FIGHT!!” your response would be exactly the same. Gross motor skill. No thinking. Dysfunction. Chaos. Fear.

Is Run Hide Fight better than Lockdown? Well, it depends how much brain-power you lose during the critical event. It certainly isn’t more beneficial to run towards danger and if you don’t stop to identify stimulus in your environment before acting… that just might happen.

The key is this: we cannot ever stop thinking during a crisis, especially a violent crisis, because of how rapidly things can change.

This is why the TTA’s Move, Evade, Defend approach is the most effective response to an active killer event.

Move is a statement that requires additional questions: “Where?” and “How?” are two that we need to ask before we run into trouble. Where is safe? Where is the danger located? How can I get away from it in the safest way possible?

Evade is a dynamic term, not a static ‘hide’. Evade requires the individual to continually re-assess the surroundings, the changing environment, and make decisions. When you’re being hunted there are times to move. There are times to be still and quite. There are times to barricade. There is no defined order or process: you have to act based on how the situation changes.

And there are times to defend. Fight implies aggression, speed, and a life-or-death situation. These all might be good things in a last-resort, ditch effort to survive. But is it necessary to get into a fight with an armed intruder?

What happens when an untrained person tries to engage an armed assailant using hand to hand combatives? Normally, nothing pretty. Is there something else that could be more effective? There has to be a yes to this question, especially when we’re talking about schools and small children. But this also applies to any kind-hearted, untrained person: there has to be an alternative to fighting.

And there is: distraction and dysfunction. The idea is that if we can disrupt how an opponent is thinking (like throwing a chair at their head) we give ourselves time to act… and escape.

The goal here is key: the objective of fight is to disable your opponent. The goal of defend is to create options: either disable your opponent or create time to act and escape.

What is so frustrating is that some schools, businesses, and government agencies are still practicing a static “Lockdown” approach to active shooter situations. All this practice re-enforces is the ability to be an easy target.

Move. Evade. Defend


Ask the Experts

Q: How can I quickly and effectively barricade an outward-opening door using common materials?

A: A highly effective barricade can be made with anything wider than the door-frame and a belt. A little pre-planning goes a long way: a 2x4 and quick tie-down strap works even better. The key is to secure the strap (on the door handle, crash bar, or butterfly hinge) and then to the 2x4 across the doorframe. The barricade can be in place in under 2 seconds and cannot be breached from the outside.

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