Staying alive in a crisis


By Sarah Whitaker, Contributor


In 2007, the Westroads shooting left people stunned that something so dramatic could happen in the Midwest. Yet, recurring gang activity in some parts of town didn’t seem to affect the general public.

On Jan. 5, Millard South High School fell victim to senior student Robert Butler Jr., who shot Principal Curtis Case and Assistant Principal Vicki Kaspar. Kaspar died of her wounds, and at the time of this article, Case was in critical condition.

Less than a year ago, police shot a man to death for attempting to kill his girlfriend at Creighton University Hospital. The truth is, nobody is ever safe. How much safer can you get than Von Maur and Millard South High School?

The desperate ones who want to start firing on others won’t care about laws prohibiting firearms and those who follow the rules are helpless to the rule-breaker’s weaponry.

I am going to be blunt, as this is a serious issue. No matter what laws are put up, nobody can be completely prepared for when an incident happens. Security is not always in a position to assist. Because you must react quickly in a crisis, I will focus on short mental commands to remember if you’re caught in such an incident.

Furniture made out of wood or plastic is not good cover. If the shooter does not turn the gun to you, run. The reason that it may not be wise to think, “run” when the gun is turned on you is that you will turn your back to the gunner. He or she will shoot you. If the gun is turned on you, move. Force that thought into your head immediately. A moving target is harder to hit.  Find anything you can to put yourself in between you and the gun. Do not charge the shooter because the closer you are to the gun, the easier it is to hit you. If you can move yourself to an exit, thenrun.

Wait until you are in a safe place before you dial 911 or your family. Phoning the police as you flee will distract you if the gunner starts firing again. Many shooters use heavy guns like shotguns, so wooden or plastic furniture do not make good cover. If you can’t find an exit right away, find a steel door and brace it if you can’t lock it. If you are in a multi-floored area, do not run to another level.  The gunner can still hit you on stairs or escalators. Run to side doors and hit the fire alarm. Most alarms are loud and widespread and may cause the shooter to panic and run.

Avoid bathrooms and closets where you can be trapped if the shooter chases you.

I am no expert at situations like this, but I have known moments of fear when I can’t think. In a town where the unthinkable has happened, swift thinking is the only thing that can save your life. I am tired of hearing about violence in Omaha, and if laws are not going to help people defend themselves, then common sense will have to prevail.


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