Situational Awareness

One of the keys to surviving an active shooting is to have situational awareness. Situational awareness is being aware of what is going on around you. We have to keep our eyes wide open and observe what is going on, and we need to follow our gut feelings. If something doesn’t seem right, if someone gives you a creepy feeling, or if someone makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, we should not ignore it! We need to be aware of that person, and depending on the situation, make others aware of this individual while not letting them know that they are being watched.

Even those that are not part of an organized safety and security team in a church should be aware of behaviors that might be concerning. As the Department of Homeland Security says, “If you see something, say something.” That an important factor in preventing church violence.

Shootings happen so quickly! If you do not have situational awareness prior to gunfire, it may be too late already. Many have said one second everything was fine, and the next second they heard gunfire. Try this exercise, snap your fingers and then see how long it takes you to escape the room you are in. Even if you gain two additional seconds through your situational awareness, those two seconds can save yours ,and possibly many other lives.

In my home church, we took it several steps further. We installed security camera’s that can see anyone trying to come in. These cameras also have day and night vision, so the time of day will not matter. The sound engineer monitors the cameras, and where I sit, I can also monitor them from across the room.

Our Pastor wanted the church to feel inviting, and was worried about someone possibly coming late to church, only to find a locked door. For that reason, we installed an electromagnetic door lock on the front door. With a flip of the switch, the doors can be locked before the shooter ever gets to the door. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that they won’t get in, but it sure gives us a fighting chance.

While the cameras and electromagnetic door locks were donated to the church, the total cost was less than $500.00. In my opinion, $500 is a minimal expenditure to prevent an active shooter from having free reign in our sanctuary.  I will post other tips to increase situational awareness  in future blogs, … Mark

 Video cam 3


Warning Signs

Have you ever wondered about the the common attributes of an active shooter? Well, I wondered it many times, so I spent two years researching and looking at others research. In 97% of the cases, the people that committed active shooting in the United States had some very common attributes. The list I am providing is just the basics. As time goes on, I will reveal more attributes of how to identify potential active shooters, and when you should be so concerned that you call the police immediately. I don’t want to overwhelm you with all of the lists at once. As you read through these attributes, think of the individuals who fit these attributes, and start thinking about who you may want to watch more closely. The information below is part of a handout that I provide when I do consulting jobs and the Surviving and Preventing Active Shooters and Bombers in Houses of Worship.

Active Shooter Common Characteristics

According to the FBI, active shooters are typically male (94%), with the youngest recorded age being 13 years old and the oldest being 88 years old. The vast majority (87%) are under the age of 40. Common themes of past active shooters include:

• May lack social skills
• May have been a victim of teasing/bullying
• May have conflicts with co-workers
• May suffer from depression
• May reveal aggressive or explosive behavior
• May violate safety guidelines
• May not accept responsibility
• May be paranoid
• May have an interest in guns/weapons
• May not take criticism well
• May blame others
• Might threaten people
• May suffer emotional outbursts
• May have control and/or domestic violence issues

The Site is Live

Just a quick note to say that the new Saving Lives and Souls website is live!

It’s a good thing too.  We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Get crackin’ Mark!