Mindset, or the will to survive, is the essential lynchpin that can help anyone weather a manmade tragedy or natural storm. Readiness is as much a state of mind as it is a physical status. Developing a plan and being prepared to execute it must work together so that when crisis hits, a person is ready to take action. These days, everyone should be thinking, do I have a plan and am I situated to handle it when tragedy strikes?


One of the underpinning considerations is how long do I need to be able to hold out? Of course, that is largely dependent on the situation. The Department of Homeland Security recommends being self-sufficient for three days. Of course, an active-shooter incident has a different timespan than a hurricane. Either way, understanding what the response would be, how long it may take and what should happen when the cavalry arrives are the first steps to surviving a rapidly evolving and highly dangerous event.


A proper mindset requires the ability to stay focused and calm. You have to focus on self-preservation and what you need to do to survive. This goes for whether shots are ringing out or the world is exploding around you with hurricane-force winds. By staying calm and focusing on staying alive, this helps the mind to think, focus and process the data bombarding it. This isn’t an easy thing to do, and one of the best ways to stay calm is to focus on one thing at a time. In many cases, if you can safely get out and away from the danger zone, try to do so, especially if you have vulnerable people in your care. If you can leave the danger zone and get off the “X,” you dramatically improve your chances of surviving.


If you can’t escape the situation, then you must understand what the police or any rescue entity will do when it arrives (and depending on the situation, it may take time). There may be lots of loud noises, perhaps some shooting and explosions or prioritization of rescue. If you are in a safe spot, keep your head down and stay out of the way. This might seem intuitive, but many try to leave and often find themselves in a worse situation or impeding the rescue effort. This is particularly true in fast and dynamic situations like an active shooter, where getting in the way is potentially dangerous and could put you in the line of fire of the attacker or the police.

When the police do get to you, listen to them. All too often, law enforcement find people frozen with fright and unable to move. This presents a new challenge for the rescue personnel and could take away needed resources. If you are able to move when law enforcement tells you, move. If you can’t move, then let the responder know and they will address it. No one expects to be in a tragic or dangerous situation, but these days, when threats of all types abound, if and when a tragedy strikes it’s best to be prepared!

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Fall 2015 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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