Small Businesses, Their Owners, Families and Campus Security Must Prepare for the Worst Case Scenarios – Key Questions
By Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong APR CCMC CAMT
NOTE: The advice and tips presented here can apply to you and your family, as well as your business.
As a small business owner, we rarely think of ourselves as “targets” and yet frankly we are, especially if you are in a retail business and open 24/7, 365 days a year. You are targets for shoplifters, robbery, vandalism, parking lot theft and even active shooters. Any business that has walk in traffic can experience an active shooter, attempted armed robbery or an armed act of domestic violence. Today’s headlines are full of such incidents as:
Jacksboro Convenience Store Robbed; Cashier Shot
- Attempted Robbery Ends – Robber Taken Down by Store Owner
- Husband Shoots Wife at Local Gas Station – Takes Own Life
- Car Jacking Attempt Scares Community – First Ever in County
- Sliders Steal Purse From Car at Gas Station
- Man Killed in Wal-Mart Toy Department
Then, of course, we have horrendous incidents such as the terrible tragedy in the darkened theater in Aurora, Colorado, where a deranged individual kills 12 people and injures 58 others.
We are living in a dangerous world. Suffice it to say that as individuals and small business owners we must acknowledge this and prepare ourselves for any possible scenario.
To ensure that the victims and all other victims of active shooters, irate spouses and deranged individuals didn’t die in vain, I suggest that we can learn lessons from such tragedies and apply them in our businesses and families.
In this column, I want to share with you the self-defense and self-preservation tactics and sage advice provided by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, author of The Red Circle that you and I can use to protect our families, our employees and ourselves.
First, simply don’t make yourself an “Easy Target” anywhere you go. When at sporting events, concerts, church, the theater, a restaurant or the movies choose seats that always give you a tactical sight advantage. Choose seats that allow a good and easy vantage point to survey the room at all times and that are near an exit that you can see and get to quickly. This employs an understanding of the need to be hyper-vigilant at all times.
Webb summarizes it this way, “Always stack the odds in your favor.”
Much like Webb, I still back into a parking space and sit with my back to the wall when I am in public. A quick escape from any situation is critical. Always survey the room, the facility and your own business for the quickest way to get out and away from a situation. When in doubt, there is no dishonor in taking flight so that you might fight again another day.
Second, if you end up in an active shooter situation immediately take cover and not just concealment.
Webb explains, “Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall. Don’t lie there with your eyes closed and get shot. Think and move. In these situations you have to take charge and get in the mindset of self-rescue. You cannot wait for first-responders – it takes too long. A good decision executed quickly is better than a great one never executed. Violence of action, as it is called in the Special Operations community, will often change the odds in your favor.”
Violence of action literally means the unrestricted use of speed, strength, surprise, and especially aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy. For example, Webb notes that in close quarter combat drills he would draw a gun with someone over 20 feet away running at him.
“In most cases you can be on someone before they can draw and take a shot. I’m not advocating running straight at someone but if you have the tactical advantage say his weapon jams, he needs to re-load, he becomes distracted or the shooter isn’t paying attention then take the shooter down or get the hell out of there. Remember that a moving target is extremely hard to hit, even for the well-trained shooter. Deal with the situation with your eyes wide open,” Webb says.
I should point out here that many small business owners have policies about the employees not carrying weapons or having weapons on the business site. If you don’t have a written policy, now is the time to write and vet it. Work with your attorney or human resources personnel to ensure you are covering the bases you want in the policy and that there is no confusion or the ability to misinterpret the policy.
More than once in the past few years, employees have been dismissed for violation of the employer’s weapons on person/premise policies even though in some cases their actions have saved lives and taken out the bad guy.
As the owner of the business you must plan for these types of situations in advance and construct the policies that you choose. Your employees should be fully aware of your policy before they are employed so they can rationally choose whether they wish to work for you or not.
In the Aurora, Co. shooting, the shooter was severely weighted down with armor and his helmet would have also limited his vision. You can use all this to your advantage to escape or to attack.
Third, Webb advocates and I concur that for personal protection you should always carry a high-powered beam flashlight. He carries one daily and takes it everywhere, as do I.
“It’s become another extension of me and has diffused at least two potentially violent confrontations in a non-lethal way,” Webb says.
Webb explains that in the case of the Colorado shooting that he would have pulled his high lumens pocket flashlight and blinded the shooter. The high powered beam would have taken away the shooter’s vision for 3-4 seconds, which is an eternity and enough time to take flight or fight.
“There’s no shame in surviving and getting you and your loved ones out of harm – especially little ones. Be a hero to your kids and family for surviving, nobody can expect more of you than that. Like we say in Survival Escape Evasion Resistance (SERE) School, “Survive with Honor,” Webb notes.
For most of people, the best bet is to buy a good tactical flashlight, that is at least 200+ lumens (I prefer and recommend 500-Lumens), waterproof, LED, with a 3-volt lithium battery. Use and carry the light with you at all times. It’s the best non-lethal and practical option available. You can take it anywhere – including on an airplane – and if it’s a high lumen model it will blind people even in broad daylight.
“I can’t recommend this purchase enough,” Webb says.
Fourth, Webb recommends if you are serious about self-protection you seek expert training. There are numerous former military and law enforcement instructors that offer self-defense skills to individuals and small groups. It is important to carefully vet the instructors, ask for references and follow those references up with visits or calls to former students to ensure you are getting what you pay for. Also, interview instructors carefully to ensure you are getting the instruction you want and need.
Remember that opening nights of events and large crowds make for easy targets. Webb says that most domestic and foreign terrorists want the biggest bang for their buck.
“Terrorists want Yankee Stadium sold out and not Padre Stadium at 60% capacity. It sucks to live this way sometimes but ask the survivors from Colorado if it’s worth a minor lifestyle change. I say it is, and it’s the main reason I’m watching the Olympics on TV and not attending,” Webb says.
Finally, rehearse emergency scenarios and what you would do before there’s an emergency, the time to practice is not when the event is happening.
Let’s apply this now to your own businesses and families. Ask yourself these questions and ensure you have thought through and practiced your intended responses with your employees and family:
What is the most vulnerable aspect of your office/business/home arrangement? Entrances and exits? Lighting? Security systems?
- Are the exit doors accessible; properly locked from the inside with quick exit capability?
- Are your entrances and exits well lighted and marked?
- If you use video surveillance cameras are they operational and properly placed?
- If you have video monitoring for your front desk or counter are those monitors working and readily seen by the person staffing the counter?
- Do you have a “quick connect” one touch button to alert 911? Is it discreetly
- Do you have working telephone landlines and one dial access to 911?
- Is the cell coverage for your employees and family sufficient to call 911 from any place in the facility or home?
- Have you rehearsed and practiced fire, tornado and active shooter drills?
- Are your employees familiar with the Run, Hide, Fight video – responses to an active shooter scenario?
- Do your employees know what is expected of them in the event of a fire or tornado?
- Do your employees know what is expected of them in the event of an active shooter, armed or unarmed robbery, shoplifting, parking lot robbery or assault?
- Do you have a clear and understood weapon’s policy that you have provided your employees and secured their agreement to preferably in writing?
- Do you have a designated assembly point if you evacuate your home or business?
- When attending public events do you ensure that your family members and friends with you know where the exits are and do you have a designated assembly point if you evacuate for any reason?
The world is a dangerous place these days and whether you are planning for business or family emergencies you must be prepared. Application of the above information to your workplace and family will prepare you for such worst cases scenarios.
There are a number of resources that we highly recommend you take the time to read and watch. They include:
Escape the Wolf by Clint Emerson and Lynn Walters
- On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs, Lt. Col. David Grossman (www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm)
- Run, Hide, Fight video (www.ldarrylarmstrong.com)