FIght, flight, freeze -- somewhat related to the Eisenhower quote
However, FEMA is rethinking that, and considering the notion of a "warm zone" -- not clearly actively dangerous, but not secured, either. The danger MIGHT be over, but that's not certain. And they're now suggesting that EMTs and firefighters go in at that point -- when the active threat APPEARS to be over, but security and police are still making sure. They're looking at what went right in the Boston Marathon bombing response, and trying to figure out how to replicate it. As I've mentioned before, the Boston Marathon bombing response was the most successful disaster response in recorded history, because of both excellent skill and planning, and because of just plain dumb luck: having an instantaneous and non-ongoing mass casualty event right in front of a whole bunch of trained medical personnel is the best way a worst thing could have happened.
What that highlighted was just how critical response time is. And we see the same thing in combat medicine -- military medics don't wait for the battle to be over before starting to stabilize the wounded; they are taking just as much fire as everyone else, and they do amazing work.
EMTs are NOT combat medics, and this would require rethinking what the job of an EMT is. But FEMA is more willing to recommend that firefighters put themselves into potential harms' way by entering "warm zones", since, as they point out, running into burning buildings is already probably MORE dangerous. Their job already is "risk my life to save other people".
Their suggestion is that non-combat first responders enter as soon as the apparent immediate danger is over, and limit themselves to stopping bleeding, while armed first responders simultaneously handle the job of securing the area.
Anyway, what I actually wanted to talk about was the OTHER part of FEMA's suggestions. They believe that, besides rethinking the role of first responders, they also want to start talking to everybody in general about what to do in people-attacking-type emergencies -- fight, if you're equipped to do so; get the heck out of there; or hide.
At Thanksgiving, my brothers-in-law, both former police officers, were talking about how folks just don't know what to do in emergencies, so the idea of spending some time teaching people to do so seems like it would be a good idea.
Basically, higher organisms like us have three basic instinctive reactions to danger: fight, flight, and freeze. People talk about the "fight or flight" response, but "freeze" is ALSO a valid response in some cases. The thing is -- for organisms of our size, we need to re-train ourselves that, instead of "freeze", we "hide".
On the whole, your best move is to "flee", if possible. Getting out of the situation means that you aren't a target; you're improving the situation by not being there. As Mr Miyagi said, "Best defense is not be there." Successfully fleeing requires situational awareness: knowing where you are, where threats are, where escape routes are. So, step one of what FEMA wants people to do is to pay attention to where they are and what's going around them.
If there isn't a route out of there, you also have the option of "hiding". Not as good as getting out of there, but still better than being a target out in the open. Again, situational awareness is all: you need to be thinking about How Not To Be Seen, and how to get to that spot. Your natural response with how to hide is to freeze; we need to rethink that enough to "get somewhere at least marginally safer, and THEN freeze".
"Fight" is a last-ditch option. If you're trained and equipped for the situation... well, "retreat" or "hide and wait for backup" are STILL probably better choices than "attack on one's own". And if you're NOT trained or equipped for it, "fight" is a TERRIBLE option. But it's still on the list. It's better than "do nothing."
So that's what I was thinking. "Fight, flight, freeze" are our natural responses. But in order for them to be useful, we need, ideally, training in how to do them effectively, or, at the very least, to have given some thought to how to do it.