Run, hide, fight.
Those are the steps Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon recommends people take if they find themselves in a dangerous and violent situation such as the massacre last month in Connecticut where a gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school.
Cannon made a presentation Thursday to Charleston County Council on a five-minute video, called “Run, Hide, Fight,” which is available on the Sheriff’s Office website. He encouraged council to in some way adopt and make use of the video, which already has been adopted by the city of Houston.
The video was produced with money from a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cannon said.
Cannon’s presentation on the video is one of several local safety efforts under way in the wake of the December killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Another is a plan by the city of North Charleston to place police officers in the city’s public elementary schools. And the group Citizens United for Public Schools, which has concerns about the increased police presence, is holding a community meeting Wednesday. Community members who attend can give input on the best ways for law enforcement and schools to work together to benefit students.
County Council members didn’t have any immediate reaction to the video, which Cannon soon hopes to present to other groups. They didn’t discuss whether they would officially adopt it.
After the meeting, council Vice Chairman Elliott Summey, who represents portions of North Charleston, said he thinks the sheriff simply is encouraging county leaders to be proactive.
County employees would benefit from watching the video so they better know how to handle an emergency situation and protect themselves, their co-workers and citizens who visit county buildings, he said.
The phrase “run, hide, fight” could be as useful for situations involving gunmen as the phrase “stop, drop and roll” is for people whose clothing has caught fire, he said.
Summey said he also thinks it would be good for teachers in county’s public schools to watch the video. Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley could not be reached for a comment.
The sheriff acknowledged that the steps described in the video aren’t the sole solution to handling violent situations. Adopting it doesn’t preclude other safety efforts either. But it’s important information, he said. “It flips a switch.”
Most people haven’t thought about what they would do if they were in a situation where a gunman began firing at people at random, Cannon said. “They don’t have a plan.”
The video encourages people to think about how they might respond, he said. It suggests three strategies for dealing with a terrifying situation. “It’s so simple,” he said.
According to the video, people should run and get out of the building if they can. They should encourage others to flee with them. But they shouldn’t delay their exit if others are indecisive.
If they can’t get out, people should hide, preferably in a separate room where they can lock the door.
Cannon said people should fight only if they have to. And, how and when someone should fight is a very personal decision. People need to use their instincts in those situations, he said.
Getting people to think for a few minutes about how they would act in a dangerous situation is very useful, he said. It increases the likelihood they will take some kind of action.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.
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