My rant!

I read Carl Chinn’s guest blog this week, and it was so obvious how prevalent violence in the church has become. If you haven’t read it, you might want to. The statistics are almost unbelievable. It just goes to show how far our society has declined, and the true hold that Satan has on much of our society! I will stop here, and leave it as the end of my first rant, even though I could write pages on it. Something tells me I would be preaching to the choir.

As is common, I also looked back over the news and information that I found or was sent this week. I couldn’t help but wonder if some people haven’t lost their ever-loving mind because of mass shooters, and the fears that they have about them. Some of this news just made me shake my head. I especially am shaking my head about putting a bucket of river rock in each classroom for students to throw at a mass shooter.

It seems that a school administrator in Pennsylvania has come up with a bucket of rocks in each classroom as a “last ditch” effort to defend themselves against a mass shooter in their school. Now don’t get me wrong, using anything against someone actively trying to kill you, or someone else, is better than laying down and dying. Of course we can also look at David and Goliath; it seems a rock did help David out.  I mean, we do teach the Run, Hide, Fight (fight as a last resort) and the ALICE training, but books would do the same thing as these rocks to distract and/or hurt a shooter, if needed. Still, is it really that smart to provide teenage boys and girls a bucket of rocks against someone wanting to kill them?

I don’t know about most of you, but when I was growing up, I thought I was invincible. As a six year old, I jumped through a  garage entry door (that had windows from top to bottom) while playing batman (I was not the brightest child).  That caused me to have numerous stitches, and from what I am told, it was touch and go for a while from all the blood loss. The worst part was I didn’t learn from that experience. When I was 11 or so, and my family was building a house, When we were sheathing and shingling it, I would regularly jump off the roof, a 10-12 foot drop. Why? Because it didn’t take as long as climbing down the ladder. I look back and think of the many times I pulled stupid moves similar to this, including working on my three wheeler and making it run almost 90 miles per hour at the ripe age of 15. I also think about others, people that have good common sense today, that used to build ramps and jump an ATV over power lines on their farms, and the kids I knew as teenagers that used to play with fire and gunpowder. If any of today’s teenagers have the same mentality I (and others) did when I was that age, then they have played it out in their mind how they would save the rest of the school from a shooter because of their pitching arm. Unfortunately, that will likely get several killed.  Perhaps it would be better for the school to have fundraisers and provide some better security measures. On the other hand, at least they aren’t ignoring the situation. Still, I believe that they are putting their students at more risk.

My final rant is based on the recent rash of explosives. A few months ago, I predicted that bombs would start to be an issue. I also predicted that they would eventually work their way into our houses of worship. We only need to look at the past two weeks to see how this is beginning to come to fruition. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a bomber in Austin, a man that sent explosives to 11 military bases, a teenager who brought a bomb to school, and various other incidents related to explosives. These types of incidents only leads me to believe that we will see more of these types of incidents, and they will begin to filter into our churches. Please be vigilant, and look for anything suspicious in our houses of worship, whether a person or a package. The devil and his minions are unfortunately alive and well. Let’s try to thwart their success. Until next time, … Mark

Tips to survive bombings

First, let me say that I am no expert in surviving bombings. The information I am providing came from research, and discussions with people who work with bombs. To be honest, I do not want to be an expert in bombs!

When looking at explosives, there are two major factors. Are they intended to only blow up, or are they intended to cause as much physical damage to people at the same time? Some explosives, especially those placed or worn, have metal attached to them. This shrapnel will usually be in the form of nuts, bolts, and nails, but almost anything may be used. The reason some bombers attach metal to explosive devices is to cause more damage to people. As the bomb explodes, it sends these metal projectiles flying at a high rate of speed, causing more damage, even beyond the initial blast zone. This is one reason why a thick heavy object might be a good place to hide (if you can’t escape). 

In order to survive an explosive device, there are some specific strategies that may increase your ability to survive. First, do your best to not panic. In most bombing incidents, you are the only one who can take the needed action to survive. Panicking will only cause you to make a mistake, possibly a fatal mistake. If there is time and opportunity, you can:

  • Create distance between you and the explosive
  • Lay flat on the ground as far as you can from the explosive.

Most explosives are designed to blow up or out. Very few explosives will take a downward angle, unless they are specifically designed to. While the explosive force will typically go up, shrapnel and debris from the explosion will be heavier, and they may head towards the floor. If you do lie on the ground, try to find a heavy item to hide under, or behind. This could include, church pews, desks, and behind vehicles (except in the case of a vehicle explosive).

If you are near the bomb and it hasn’t exploded, you could  crawl away from the bomb under pews. This would provide you protection, and it would help to create distance between you and the bomber. If your church has chairs instead of pews, you may want to determine (before an incident) if they are substantial enough to prevent shrapnel and bullets from coming through, or would they add to the shrapnel that could harm you.

If the bomb is noticed, but has not yet exploded, you should begin taking short shallow breaths (some even say to pant). Research has shown that blast over-pressure is the primary cause of deaths in an explosion, especially in confined spaces (indoors). Air moving at supersonic speed can rupture lungs if they are full of air. As might be expected, the most severe damage is done in close proximity to the blast, and the damage and over-pressure injuries diminish as the distance increases.

A list of areas to stay away from include:

  • Windows
  • Mirrors,
  • Lightweight furniture
  • Electrical equipment (especially hanging lights or fans)
  • Gas operated equipment (such as stoves and furnaces)
  • Anything that might move or fly easily

It is also important to realize that you shouldn’t use elevators or wheel chair lifts if there is an explosive threat. The explosion may disable them, or worse yet, it may cause them to fail completely.

Should there be an explosion and you survive, you should exit the building immediately. Don’t look for others, don’t look for any of your belongings, just get clear of the area. As you exit the bombed area, be aware of electrical lines and treat all of them as if they are energized. Also, avoid walls that may be unstable, and avoid any falling debris (as it is possible).

As I close this information on bombings, I should note that in most instances, it is highly unlikely that your church will suffer an attack using explosives (at this point and time). It is still important that you work to identify strategies that may help you to be better prepared for an explosive device brought to your church. It is important to remember that if there actually were an explosives attack on your church, there is no guarantee that the information provided will save you. I will say the information I have provided  should, at the very least, increase your chances of survival.

Tomorrow, we will hear from one of the actors who was in our instructional video (my lovely wife). She will share her thoughts and experience while we were filming the video. On Thursday, we will be discussing what will happen, and how you should react, when the police arrive. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you safe, … Mark

Suspicious Packages-Part 3

Good morning and Happy New Year. Most of us make New Years resolutions, and I hope you and/or your church will make the resolution to use the information I (and other credible consultants) provide, to help make your church more safe and resilient against active shooters and bombers. Today, I am going to continue to share information on placed devices for active bombings.

Placed devices can be a package device or an explosive device that has no package, or is encased in something that creates a package. A placed device can have multiple types of triggers, including wired to a light switch, telephone, door, or fire alarm. It could have a trip wire, a hand contact, or a cell phone which detonates it.

Placed devices can be in mailboxes, out in the open, hidden in closets or under chairs or pews, or they can be in plain sight. The best way to prevent, and perhaps even mitigate, a placed explosive is good surveillance and situational awareness.

Bombers prefer the path of least resistance, what individuals in the homeland security and public safety field identify as soft targets. The church should try to deter bombers through hardening, or at least giving the appearance hardening to their church.  Something as simple as signs posted which say “All backpacks, briefcases, suitcases, and other packages are subject to inspection” might deter a bomber, especially if they have never been to your church before. This signage itself may, or may not help, nobody really knows for sure. It could be compared to a bluff in poker; can you fool the bomber into thinking they will get caught before they ignite the explosive? If so, they may choose an easier target.

If inspecting packages is an avenue your church wants to pursue, you should have a plan, and individuals who are trained to inspect items that are considered suspicious. It is important to note that inspecting packages without proper training is a recipe for disaster.

Also, should the church decide to inspect packages, those inspections should be in an area where it is less likely to harm others or cause damage to the church. It is at the churches discretion whether they want to post signage, or even inspect packages. There is no research that conclusively identifies or disputes signage or inspection of packages in a church as a deterrent, although there is data in war zones which indicates that this does work. While there is no evidence that it is a deterrent in churches, common sense tells us that the inspection of packages and individuals outside of the building will reduce the death over letting that explosive device into the building, where people are congregated.

The final, and perhaps the most difficult placed explosive to identify, is a car or truck bomb. It is however the least likely type of bomb delivery method. If a vehicle is placed in close proximity to the church, this may provide a clue that it may have explosives in it. If you come to church, and there is a strange car or truck parked in close proximity to the building, then it could potentially be a vehicle loaded with explosives. The first thing you should do is to keep individuals away from the vehicle and contact law enforcement from a safe distance, immediately!

If the rear end of the vehicle appears to be heavy (like it is loaded [based on the fact that it sits lower than the front]),  this too could be a sign of potentially being loaded with explosives. While some may say that this car (or truck) may be loaded with Bibles, or even books, you need to ask yourself “When was the last time someone delivered a truck load of Bibles or books to the church?”

Of course, you also need to use common sense. Are you expecting a new pastor and this might be their moving truck? Are you expecting a load of blankets to pass out to homeless individuals? Are you expecting a load of tracts and/or Bibles? If any of these fit, then you should probably not call the police unless there is something else suspicious.

If a suicide bomber is using a vehicle as a delivery device, then there are some precautions that could be taken. Of course, just like all of my recommendations, these are left to the discretion of the church as to whether they want to take security to this level. Gates could be put up to prevent someone from placing the vehicle when nobody is there. When people are at the church, rather than let any vehicle pull up to the front door, a safety and security team member could be placed at a portion of the driveway to allow only those that meet the churches protocols, to drive to the door. Those protocols would be regular members, elderly individuals, disabled individuals, known individuals, or something similar.

Again, this is up to the church, and should be based on the potential risk of a vehicle bombing. While it is unlikely that a security team could stop a car bombing, it may be a deterrent for someone with evil intentions. Seeing this type of security may cause them to never consider your church as a target, or they may detonate the explosives further from the building, which could result in less people getting injured.

As with any other explosive incident, law enforcement should be called as soon as possible if it is believed that there is a threat. Tomorrow,  I will discuss little known facts about how to survive an explosive device, should it get into your house of worship. Until then, … Mark

Suspicious packages-Part 2

As you might have guessed, covering the potential for bombings in houses of worship is an extensive subject. While I am trying to provide you with information on how to prevent a bombing, I am essentially just touching the tip of the iceberg in this blog. If you, or your church are interested in learning more, I strongly suggest that you hire a professional to provide an on-sight class.

Continuing from yesterdays blog, I wanted to continue by starting with delivered packages. Delivered packages could include a package, or multiple packages, being delivered to the church by the postal service, FedEx, or UPS. These devices can be just as deadly as the larger devices discussed yesterday. Signs that should raise concern that the package may be a potential IED include:

  • Excessive Postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Strange return address or no return address
  • Incorrect titles or title without a name
  • Not addressed to a specific person

These package may also be:

  • Marked with threatening language
  • Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address
  • Marked with exceptions, such as “Personal”, “Confidential”, or “Do Not X-Ray”
  • Heavy on one side of the package
  • May have a wire  imprint in the package
  • May have a stain similar to oil leaking

If a package seems suspicious there are several precautions that should be taken.

If you have the package in your hands, you should gently and carefully placed on a flat level surface such as a desk or chair. If it is already sitting on a table, chair, or the mailbox, leave it there! You should then evacuate making sure not to use any electrical devices until everyone is a safe distance away from the potential device. Do not pull the fire alarm, turn lights on (or off), or use a cell phone while still in the area of the package. It is best to use a hard phone line, if at all possible, because a cell phone could be at a frequency that detonates the device. However, if the package and the phone are both in the building, you should evacuate the building, go a safe distance away from the building, and use a cellphone.

In the first blog of the week, we discussed ways to tell that someone may be carrying carried explosive device based on the behavioral mannerisms.

In looking at someone that have these mannerisms, you should also be aware of ways to better identify potential explosives in soft packages. You should be smelling for strange smells as well as looking for bumps or outlines. Things that should raise a red flag include:

Smells to watch for:

  • Diesel fuel
  • Gasoline
  • Fertilizer
  • Oil type odor
  • Tar
  • Bitter almonds
  • No smell at all

Bumps or outlines associated with explosive

  • Pieces of pipe
  • Propane cylinders (especially small canisters)
  • Rectangular or square blocks
  • Dynamite taped together
  • Grenade shapes
  • Leaking oil, or oil type stains

There could be other shapes as well, but these are the most common. In most instances the carried device is going to be a suicide bomber. They may be wearing it in a backpack, a suicide vest (under their coat) , or some other method that is typically hidden. These types of devices tend to have a greater rate of killing people because it is hidden, and typically they are not detonated until it can do the most damage.

The exception to killing many people, is if the bomber is caught, confronted, or otherwise disrupted before reaching their target. When this happens, more often than not, they blow themselves up where they have been confronted.

As was mentioned in previous previous blogs this week, identification of explosive devices may be difficult. The bomber may keep one or both hand inside their pocket, or in the case of a backpack or bag bomb, they will be especially careful not to bump it, or they may keep a hand on the bag or backpack at all times. It may take a keen eye to identify wires that might be seen going from the backpack, or wires that go back into their clothes. These wires  are often hard to see, if they can be seen at all.

Typically, the reason they will keep their hand in their pocket (or the delivery device), is so they can keep their hand on the detonator at all times. Trained security or church personnel may be able to identify these individuals, and then isolate them from others.

Only those with specialized training should consider undertaking this task, and they should check with local law enforcement to identify where, and how, they can find this training in their area.

NEVER, under any circumstances should individuals who are not trained in explosives devices try to attack the bomber. The bomber may have what is known as a “dead-man” switch being held down by their thumb. If that pressure is released, the explosives will detonate. The act of attacking this individual may cause the explosive to detonate. Even physically detaining them (grabbing an arm or pushing them against a wall) could be lethal to all.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing a video that was unexpected while we were filming and the police department was using it as a training. The video I share should make you laugh, because it made us laugh! I will resume talking about bombs and bombings on Monday. May the Lord keep you safe until then, … Mark

Suspicious packages-Part 1

Church bombings are on the rise, especially in countries outside of the United States. While the chances of a bombing are less likely than a church shooting (in the United States), we need to realize that the media is providing in-depth coverage into every aspect of recent bombings throughout the world. The media coverage itself  might inspire certain individuals in the U.S. to do the same, so it is possible that we will see more church bombings in the near future.

Just like church security is different for every church, the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) can take many different forms, based on the mind of the bomber. IED’s are generally divided into four main categories: .

  • Package Devices
  • Carried by Individual Devices
  • Placed Devices
  • Car/truck Devices

There are no hard and fast rules in the type of explosive or the composition used to make them. Some of these categories could even be classified as multiple methods. As an example, a suicide bomber may be carrying a package so this individual would be using the package device and the individual device category at the same time.

Package devices can be in the form of a backpack, a briefcase, a suitcase, a mailed box or envelope or a whole host of other types of packages.

  • Someone wearing a backpack
  • A suitcase in the corner of the room
  • Someone carrying a briefcase
  • Boxes, possibly even wrapped as gift
  • Mailman delivering a package

Because there are so many possibilities, it may be difficult to identify what is a threat and what is not a threat. In most instances, if it seems odd or out of place, it may be an IED device. If there is backpack, suitcase, or some other package, and nobody claims this suspicious package as theirs, it might be time to take precautions. If a “never seen before visitor” comes to your church, and they have a package, backpack, suitcase, briefcase, or other items that could contain a bomb, it may be advisable to take precautions.

If an unfamiliar and unsolicited package arrives by mail, it might be time to take precautions. In fact, even mailed items can provide evidence that you should proceed with caution.

Identifying which packages should receive scrutiny is difficult. A good rule of thumb is to keep a watchful eye, and if something seems suspicious or out of place, it should be investigated by someone that knows what they are doing. Should you be fortunate enough to see a person leaving something suspicious, from a distance speak loudly and tell them they left the item behind. If they do not respond in an appropriate way, you should evacuate the building or area and immediately contact law enforcement.

 It is important to note that you should not turn any lights on or off, and you should not use radio’s or phones until you are clear of the area. If you were not fortunate enough to see the backpack, briefcase, suitcase, or other package being placed, you should quickly try to see if you can find an owner. If no owner can be found,  then the area should be evacuated and law enforcement should be called (from a safe distance).

 If the suspicious package is inside a building, then the entire building should be evacuated and go a safe distance from the building. If the package is outdoors, then an area of 200 feet or more should be cleared, depending on the size of the package and where it is placed. Under no circumstances should the package be touched or moved, and under no circumstances should you use any device that uses any form of electricity, including lights, cell phones and telephones, at least until you are well clear of the potential device.

Tomorrow, we will continue to discuss what you should look for in Part 2 of Suspicious Packages. Stay safe and grounded in the Lord, … Mark

Identifying potential bombers

Bombers, just like those carrying other weapons, will usually do things that indicate they may be up to no good. In most instances, a bomber in a house of worship is much easier to spot if you know what to look for. The key to spotting someone carrying an IED into a house of worship is to have situational awareness.

Similar to active shooters, bombers have specific psychological behaviors that tell us that the individual may have bad intentions. This can include nervousness, twitching, fidgeting, and profusely sweating. They may have no facial expression, they don’t smile or laugh when most people would, and/or something may not seem quite right. These are all behaviors that can be linked to a “fear of discovery” by criminals or terrorists

We can sometimes identify the physical behaviors of those carrying an IED or someone that might be a suicide bomber. In most instances suicide bombers  have certain looks and mannerisms. One or more people with a keen eye can in many instances spot these individuals in the parking lot, or as they enter your church.

Signs that someone may be wearing a suicide vest include wearing clothing that is uncommon for the season, such as a large jacket on a warm day, or they may be wearing a coat, suit jacket or windbreaker that appears to be too large to match their face and legs. As can be seen in the picture below, the person is wearing a large coat, much bigger than his frame. He is also wearing shorts, which is unusual.  He may be a homeless person, or he may be a bomber, but this is an uncommon behavior. No matter what the uncommon behavior is, it should raise red flags with the safety team and be investigated.

Another sign of explosives is that they may be walking uncharacteristically gentle, walking in a robotic manner, or they may be acting nervous and/or sweating. They may have controlled or shallow breathing, and in most instances they will not look anyone in the eye. They will usually stare straight ahead, sometimes as if they are looking right through you.

In cases of radical terrorists, you may see light skin on their face where they recently shaved a beard, or they may be mumbling prayers . They may keep one or both hand inside their pocket, or in the case of a backpack or bag bomb, they will be especially careful not to bump it.

There may be wires that can be seen running from the backpack or jacket back into their clothes. In many instances they will keep their hand their pocket or the bag, so they can keep their hand on the detonator. In some instances, they may keep the detonator outside of the pocket, especially if it is a dead man switch that triggers the IED when they let go of the trigger (see the second image).

 

While the vast majority of suicide bombers are male, it should be noted that there are female suicide bombers too. This holds especially true with religious zealots. If your church has trained safety and security personnel, there is an increased chance that they may be able to identify these individuals and isolate them from others, or exclude them from the church altogether. Either action will save lives!

Over the next few days, I will be blogging about the types of IED’s and how they may be delivered. As much as I dislike doing this, some of these posts may be discussing the same subject over multiple days, simply because there is so much information to share so we can keep you, and your church, safe. Until then, … Mark