Analysis October 2017 – Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Incident
I have to tell you that this incident had a dramatic effect on me – it pushed the boundaries of my imagination for possible contingencies we might encounter and need to prepare for. And it has taken me this week to digest the impact of the event. But first, I want to express my condolences to the many victims and their families. It is very sad that happy lives were damaged or destroyed by this senseless attack.
I am not going to drill down into the motivations of the shooter as information continues to come out and I do expect that new information will dramatically change our understanding of this event. But I do want to look at what each of us should be doing in preparation for another incident like this.
First of all, I decided many years ago to avoid big profile events with large gatherings of people just because it provides a target of opportunity for an active shooter to attack or other terrorist type attack. The Super Bowl, the Olympics, or any large event puts a lot of unarmed people in a confined space with limited egress in the event of an attack. Why do I say that? Perimeter security is usually established to screen everyone entering the event and while you would expect that this results in a measure of security and safety while you are attending – it also assures attacker(s) that once they breach or bypass the access control, they have a large group of unarmed and generally helpless targets confined within a small area. My first recommendation is that you consider carefully if you wish to attend a high visibility event that may attract a crazy active shooter.
Second, I think this particular incident demonstrated clearly that in addition to high profile heavily attended events that would or should be the first choice of a active shooter, any instance of crowds gathered together can now be a potential tragedy waiting to happen. Your risk while attending any event has just increased.
Third, this incident was an open air event and the nearby multi-story Mandalay Bay building provided a ready made sniper nest giving the shooter the advantage of plunging fire. This effectively negated any screening of people entering the concert – he did not have to negotiate or breach security, he had stand off and from his lofty perch above all perimeter security, was able to rain down plunging fire on the crowd making it near impossible to find cover and concealment from his line of fire. Events in a facility of some sort or stadium with high seating sections may limit the ability of a shooter to replicate this attack – but this incident clearly demonstrates that in an urban environment, threats can now come from above you.
Next, let’s assume you decide to go to an event that could potentially be attacked (spoiler alert – this is basically any event where crowds might gather). How do you prepare yourself?
One – what are you taking with you? You might want to augment your sundries with a trauma first aid kit. And you should have one or more tourniquets, several compression bandages, and a medical scissors in that kit. First Aid kits will be permitted through screening. You might also want to get a backpack with a ballistic panel so you can at least have some cover no matter where you are in the event. Again this item will pass any security screening.
Two – upon arrival you should be familiarizing yourself with the surroundings: where are the aid stations? Where are the fire extinguishers or hoses? Where are the exits, primary and secondary? Many people may automatically discount the possibility of going backstage because “you need a backstage pass.” For folks near that area, that should be a top consideration as opposed to staying with the crowd in the open. When your life, and the lives of your loved ones, is on the line…rules like that are out the window. And you need to look for where could you take cover if you cannot exit. Finally, you should be familiar with the nearby area, particularly where the closest hospital or police station is located.
Three – comms plan: don’t forget that in an emergency the cell system can quickly get overwhelmed. Even people calling 911 might overload the system. If you cannot evacuate and are seeking cover – I recommend you take advantage of the smaller bandwidth requirements for an SMS and send a text to someone you can trust to advise them of the situation (they might be able to get a call through to 911 on a landline). In this case, your message has to be clear with 5 Ws: what is happening, where we are at, who is with us, when it started or other signficant time hacks, what you are asking them to do. Calmness and clarity will help facilitate the comms and get assistance rolling to your aid.
Four – a contingency plan: if you are alone, someone should know where you went and when you expect to be back. Save your loved ones some drama and trauma by keeping them informed of what you are doing. If you are in a group – the group should discuss a contingency plan that in the event of an emergency where you will attempt to evacuate to or assemble once the emergency is over. This should include primary, alternate and contingency rally points (the car, the nearby landmark, the house) with cut off times. For example: in event of an emergency, move back to the car and wait for one hour (if conditions permit), after one hour head to the designated landmark for two hours, after that we will wait for you at home.
I am going to refer you to our Active Shooter article for a run down of what your options are once the shooting starts. But in addition to the evacuate, hide, or fight options you also have to consider if you feel you can render medical assistance to others. This decision may place you at risk, exposing yourself to potential fire when you are rendering assistance. We usually recommend that you try not to move casualties, except to remove them the threat of a hazard such as direct gunfire, as you don’t want to cause further injury, but this will have to be a judgement call based on your assessment of the situation at the time. We have a whole section on the website on Hemorage Control (content alert – there are graphic images of wounds)
but I also recommend you look at the our video on Good Samaritan Laws at https://www.prepper-skills.com/blogs/Good_Samaritan_Laws
Ok, you have some kit with you, you have familiarized yourself with the facility, you have a comms and contingency plan. You are now better prepared for today’s ever-evolving threats.
Let’s review using our four phases of planning:
- Do you need to go?
- If you decide to go – prepare your trauma medical kit and ballistic panel backpack
- Inform your family of your plans
- On arrival
- Familiarize yourself with the layout of the facility
- Finalize your contingency plan – rally points, time windows
- Evacuate if possible
- Hide if you can’t evacuate
- Fight if you have to
- Optional – render assistance to other casualties if you are capable
- Communicate – get an SMS message out to your family with clear instructions
- If you have evacuated – rally at your primary, alternate or contingency rally points
- If you had to remain in place – await the authorities but be prepared to evacuate if the circumstances change (permitting or requiring)
- If you have to fight, bring everything you can to bear on neutralizing your adversary
- If you are rendering aid – refer to our triage article and evaluate the situation to determine how to proceed
- Once out of danger, you can return to “normal” operations
- Restock your medical kits as needed
- Rest and recuperate
- Be aware of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and seek counseling if needed
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