July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How or When to Run. Hide. Fight.

(Courtesy of St. Mary’s Hospital)

“Very interesting and informative shiur today. Hope I never need this info, but now I feel better prepared if necessary. Every shul, school, office and store should attend!”

“How do you feel about encouraging all local hospitals to follow suit and hold this kind of session? Maybe it could be done following the Passaic model?”

This is some of the feedback received from people who attended the Active Shooter Survival and Stop-the-Bleed shiur on Monday, January 20, at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic.

“Unfortunately, not all hospitals can do these training shiurim,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison consultant to St. Mary’s General Hospital and organizer of these training sessions. “The Homeland Security video is very good, but it shows the basics: Run. Hide. Fight. All of that is good, but how or when do you run, hide or fight? Most doors open out from a room, so it’s difficult, if not impossible, to block egress to that room. And when do you run? When you hear a shot far away? When you see the shooter? How do you fight? What do you hit him with? The shooter may not be close enough to hit him.”

Jim Bradley was the keynote speaker at this shiur. Jim has been with Prime Healthcare Services since 2014 and is responsible for education and training on workplace violence, which includes surviving an active shooter and teaching the Stop-the-Bleed method, throughout the Prime Healthcare Service network of 45 hospitals in 14 states. For 10 years Jim was a Philadelphia police officer and a member of the tactical unit that focused on violent crimes and narcotics before he was injured in the line of duty and retired. And he is passionate about what he teaches and whom he trains, as evidenced by one of his quotes: “I’ll speak to a colony of ants if I feel what I have to say can save lives!”

“Time is the single most important variable when we look at mitigating the impact of an active shooter incident,” said Jim. “The one thing certain about active shooters is that they are cowards looking for soft targets. If they come upon a police officer or armed guard by a synagogue, they may be more reluctant to enter. What they want to do is come into a place—hospital, office, school, house of worship or mall—and start shooting. Most people will panic, which is the worst thing you can do!”

“Whenever you walk into a facility, take note of the two nearest exits. And check the doors where you enter to see how you can secure them if needed,” said Jim. “Let’s look at the profile of an active shooter. An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly—often over within 10 to 15 minutes. Hence, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal in advance.”

How to Respond When an Active Shooter Is in Your Vicinity.

You must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation. Call 911 immediately. Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. The first thing you do is evacuate the building: run, if there is an accessible escape path, regardless of whether others agree to follow. Leave your belongings behind: they are useless if you are dead! If possible, help others escape, and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be. Keep your hands visible and follow the instructions of any police officers.

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should be out of the active shooter’s view and should provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., a room with a closed and locked door). To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place, lock the door and/or blockade the door with heavy furniture. In a shul or school, it may not be possible to lock the door, and the door may open out. Use your belt or anything that can tie the door closed.

If you are in shul, and the active shooter is nearby, silence your cell phone and/or pager. Remain quiet and calm! Dial 911 if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location. If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by acting as aggressively as possible against him/her. Break that chair or table to make weapons. Throw the chair at him; club him with the table or chair legs—use anything available to hit the shooter!

Stop the Bleed

Just as your shul has a defibrillator, so too should you have a Bleeding Control Kit, which is available from the Red Cross or other sources. Stopping the bleed depends on the location of the wound and how serious. If it is in the torso, applying pressure is all you can do until help arrives. For a limb, you can use a tourniquet, even a makeshift tourniquet, which requires wrapping any cloth—your shirt, tie, jacket—and tie it around an extremity. The tourniquet should be tightened until the wound stops bleeding.

You will need a stick or other item strong enough to act as a windlass—a lever that can be used to twist the tourniquet tighter. Anything can be used as a windlass, as long as it is strong enough to hold the tourniquet and can be secured in place. Consider using pens or pencils, sticks or spoons.

When a tourniquet is applied, it is important to note the time of application and write that time down somewhere handy. A tourniquet left on too long can result in amputation of the limb.

Remember: you are the first first responder!


St. Mary’s General Hospital will be conducting more of these educational shiurim for the community in 2020 and we are very interested in suggestions from you. For suggestions or more information, please email George Matyjewicz at [email protected].

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