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How Would You Respond To An Active Assailant?

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A leading security consulting and risk assessment firm conducted a poll on how professionals would react to an active assailant situation.
Active Assailant

An active assailant situation happens: now, how do you react? It’s hard for people to pinpoint their gut-reaction to this unimaginable situation, but TAL Global, a leading security consulting and risk assessment firm, recently conducted a LinkedIn Poll asking the question: “If an assailant entered your building or office, which of the following do you believe you would do first?” 

The responses were:

  • 19% said they would run.
  • 17% would hide. 
  • 13% would freeze.
  • 52% would fight. 

“In a real-life scenario, this is typically not what happens,” said Oscar Villanueva, a Professional Certified Investigator, private investigator, and the Chief Operating Officer for TAL Global. “Studies find that most of us freeze first in very threatening situations such as an active shooter in a building.”
Villanueva points to a December 2018 study published in The New York Times that found when facing a serious threat of any kind, “we find ourselves frozen, unable to act and think clearly.” *
The Times article adds that freezing is not a choice. Instead, “it is a built-in impulse controlled by ancient circuits in the brain…and is automatically set into motion by external threats.”

The Run, Hide, Fight is a methodology adopted by many police authorities, the FBI, and taught to building tenants, in work settings, and to school children. “While the Run, Hide, Fight method of dealing violence or an assailant situation has served us well,” added Villanueva, “it does not consider this freezing component, which can result in people getting killed or injured.”
Further, he says that the Run, Hide, Fight approach is reactive, and that a proactive approach is really needed to protect individuals and organizations in emergency situations. TAL Global created a methodology, called Prepare-React-Recover (PRR), to help organizations think proactively about active assailant preparedness. The method focuses on the following:
Prepare: Assessing the preparedness of an organization and identifying where there are security gaps. This is the proactive component.

React: Implement evacuation and lockdown procedures, notify all employees promptly, and monitor the situation until conditions are safe.

Recover: After a violent incident, the goal is to help people and the organization recover from the incident as quickly as possible.

In addition, here are some other resources on how to prepare for an active shooter incidents, from the CISA and FBI.

*“Run, Hide, Fight Is Not How Our Brains Work,” by Joseph Ledoux, published in the New York Times, December 18, 2015.

Click here for more insights about how to prepare for Active Assailant incidents.
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