Personal thoughts-Cleo Warnick

I asked my wife to write down her personal thoughts about filming the active shooter video we are producing. I have also asked others to do the same, so you will likely see more of these in the near future. I find it amazing that even though this was a bunch of simulated scenes, with specific breaks between shots, it still brought about some serious emotions. Please ponder this account, and enjoy it, … Mark

Cleo Warnick’s thoughts and feelings-

As the day of videotaping began, I tried to bring myself back mentally to the days of secondary school drama club when I tried to imagine to be in a real situation we were about to act in.  There, the similarities between the two end.  On the day of filming, we were about to try and show what may happen, how we may feel and react, based on being unprepared and uninformed on what to do or expect, while hoping to maintain some safety…

…It seemed like a normal day as part of the congregation; a few greetings were exchanged; a little light-heartedness in quick chats before settling into the pews.  Everything was as it usually is.  Aware that cameras were already rolling, it occurred to me this sameness was how many disastrous and tragic days often begin when an active shooter situation occurs.  Empathy for those who have suffered a active shooter or bomber situation engulfed my thoughts.  Unremarkable, indistinct beginnings of a day, can turn to horror and terror at the blink of an eye, lives never to be the same, or worse, lost.

While listening to the opening of the morning’s messages, I felt vulnerable, because I clearly knew why we were all gathered.  The speaker continued, and we listened to his words. It was a pleasant day, and the weather was good.  Good friends had joined us, which is always a blessing.  Suddenly, a commotion broke behind me and was increasing; I, in the middle pews, I became aware of an individual storming past me down the narrow aisle towards the pastor, strangely holding his arm up with something in his hand!

Shock; disbelief; unreal; people screaming.  What do I do? What do I do? In church; he has a gun! Everyone was scattering in different directions.  Do we try to get out?  We are helpless.  Fear; overwhelming fear was my primary response. I told myself that I needed to remove myself, yet I felt frozen to the spot. Not asleep. This is my worst nightmare.

Okay, cut!

Dr. Warnick who was directing, stopped us and explained all that we could have done to lessen the impact of this individual on the church, and its people.  We needed to work together, identify our available resources, and have select people be prepared in the ways he suggested.  We needed to be more vigilant, or observant, of unusual behavior, and its implications.  Dr. W surprised us by showing us how many ways to exit, and made me realize the importance of uniting in our efforts to prepare ourselves and in so doing, strengthen our defenses.  There are actions people can take, as opposed to being sitting frozen to the spot, that can help them and others stand a greater chance of survival.  To be honest, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about crawling under the pews for protection, or as a way to escape.

Someone knowledgeable in emergency preparedness can work with the regulars to pinpoint all that can be done with greater safety, in the face of adversity to facilitate a better outcome.  We can understand inner turmoil and horror while witnessing horrible events, but would we not sooner have had some training and instruction on improving the situation?

An example is where we would not go out in pouring rain without a waterproof coat, and are therefore more likely to stay dry.  A raincoat helps to keep us dry and avoid colds.  At work, in the event of a fire or other emergency, we look to the trained individual(s) who have been prepared to work with employees in such difficulty.  Usually, there are practice fire drills.  It makes sense to know what to do.  The ‘its not going to happen around here’ is an ideal, not a guarantee.  Preparation strengthens the individual and the group.  Not knowing what options there are, or what to do for the best under the circumstances, creates fear in itself.

The above are some thoughts, feelings and visualizations that I experienced during filming an instructional video under the guidance of Dr. Mark Warnick, emergency management specialist.  He has spearheaded and is producing this video to help others be better prepared for the purpose of saving lives.

 

Cleo Warnick

Master’s degree learner in Clinical Psychology

 

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