Children are taught to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothing ever catches fire. Now some authorities want adults to "run, hide and fight” if they’re ever at work when a gunman opens fire.
In an eerie video funded by the Department of Homeland Security, experts offer advice on what safely could be considered a worst-case scenario at the workplace.
"It may feel like just another day at the office, but occasionally, life feels more like an action movie,” intones the narrator as workers are seen holding meetings, making copies, taking coffee breaks or working in solitude within their cubicles.
Suddenly, a man dressed in black and wearing sunglasses takes a shotgun from his backpack and begins blasting away, starting with a security guard standing next to the elevator. (The video is a dramatization, but may be disturbing.)
This six-minute training video was made for $200,000 in federal grant money.
The video, nearly six minutes long, was produced by the city of Houston with money from a federal grant.
“In particular, we wanted to address those early moments, when an individual has the best opportunity to save himself,” said Dennis Storemski, director of Houston’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
While the frightening video may bring to mind recent attacks on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and movie theater in Colorado, Storemski said the producers had a different model in mind: the 2008 chain of attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people.
The video promotes a simple, three-step plan to escape danger:
- Run. Always try to escape if possible, even if others insist on staying behind.
- Hide. If you can’t escape, conceal yourself. Lock doors, turn off the lights and silence your cell phone.
- Fight. As a last resort, prepare to battle or throw off the attacker, using a chair, metal trash can, fire extinguisher or whatever else can be turned as a weapon.
Funding for the $200,000 video came from a $3.6 million grant Houston received from the Department of Homeland Security. The video was made in May and became available just days before the deadly July 20 Aurora, Colo., movie theater attack that killed 12 and injured 58.
Nicole Stickel, a spokeswoman for the DHS, said money came from a program funding "law enforcement and terrorism prevention activities, like training videos."
The department offers similar advice in booklet form, without the frightening visuals.
Storemski said the response to the “Run, Hide, Fight” video has been overwhelmingly positive. The video has received more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube and has been shared with police jurisdictions throughout the country. DVD requests also have come in from as far as Germany, Japan and Australia.
However, the video has been criticized over its advice to fight back if necessary. But some security experts say that choice makes sense.
“We used to say cooperate with the robber or whoever is harming you, but the paradigm has shifted,” said Vernon Herron, senior policy analyst for the Center of Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. “If someone has in their mind that they want to shoot and injure and kill as many people as possible, cooperating with somebody like that is not going to help.”
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