“Run, Hide, Fight” - The mindless tactic


To start with - violence is escalating in all forms. Knife. Fire. Firearm. Improvised weapons and explosive devices. A disturbing developing trend is that every time there is an active violence event, all these training companies offering the latest offensive tactics start advertising because FIGHT will save your life. If you can’t fight, then RUN and HIDE are your only options. Purely focusing on this aspect is negligence. For those capitalizing on this, you are setting up your staff, students, friends and families for potential failure; as trainers, you have a responsibility to set people up for success.

We are going to break this down into two parts.

  • The FALSE machismo of fight vs flight mentality, and

  • The misconception of the run, hide, fight concept and considerations for first responders

In order to understand the human response and stages of reaction, let’s have a quick look at some work on this subject from Lt. Col. (ret) David Grossmann. Keep in mind I don’t support all his work, however, this one concept is valid. Fight, Posture, Flight, Submit.

Very easy;

Fight - Close with and engage the enemy either directly (hands-on) or indirectly (weapons creating a stand-off in distance for engagement)

Posture - This is a two fold component. First, a well versed person in violence will posture themselves into a more advantageous position to effectively engage the threat. The second, someone who is not indoctrinated/ well versed to violence, will pose as a false alpha and post or pump their chest/ image to appear as a threat with intent to intimidate - very easy to spot in society these days and I say go hands on with those suckers

Flight - Overwhelming violence can result in the individual fleeing from the site due to priorities, lack of experience or training to engage the threat. Quite often a negative mindset is produced from knowing this is your only response due to the enormous amount of negative social influences on the subject. Not only are they (every chest beating wannabe alpha) extremely wrong, they lack any exposure or real world knowledge across the spectrum of active violence situations. We are here to tell you you can make a difference and weaponise this response.

Submit - The one and only category you NEVER want to be in. Condition black - complete shutdown response both physiologically and psychologically. End result, you sustain serious life threatening injuries or assume the permanent horizontal state.

First up, the false machismo idea of having value and worth in these environments, to FIGHT, is doing a disservice to the community and creating a false sense of confidence in people. Not only that, it is also instilling fear into individuals who may find themselves inserted in to these environments either directly/ indirectly because of their inability to conduct violent acts. To make this perfectly clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being able to perform violent acts in these situations. The over aggressive “I’m a savage” or “I’m a true alpha so if you throw me to the pack, I’ll come back leading it” mentality has a lot to blame for what is essentially ego stroking BS mentality. There is more to saving lives and being of value than fighting.

FLIGHT is a valuable asset in your arsenal and I don’t mean in the form of self-preservation. This course of action does not mean you are out of the fight and by no means are of lesser value to those under your immediate protection or the unknowns around you. There are two valuable courses of action you can follow;

  • Shepherd people. That’s right - guide and push them to safety. Often people in society, who are not well versed to these situations through lack of exposure or ignorance, will always conform and function better when there is a confident guide at hand. Not only that, it works great with children to move them quicker and maintain accountability. You only have so many hands to carry kids. It’s important to rehearse this so everyone is on the same page and people move with a purpose and confidence. Control the chaos!

  • After the shepherding is done, provide immediate care! That’s right - immediate trauma care, including shock management, is vital. Not just in the realm of injury management but by mitigating the psychological trauma people endure, they are able to adjust to life post event a lot easier. High stress situations can create a false normalcy for people and heightened sensors which impact their daily life adversely post event. This can be managed via an in-direct debriefing and reassurance method that allows the victims brain to process everything better.

Understanding the performance of tourniquets on adults and children, tourniquet conversion when in a prolonged pre-hospital setting, wound packing, airway access and management, circulation, shock and hypothermia management are vital skills to saving lives and can successfully be executed without having to apply violence to a situation or a have PhD.

Considerations for the family man and Advisers/ Security Professional

If you are a Security Adviser to an organisation, Region Security Officer/ Adviser at an Embassy then your programs must be scalable. People deployed are exactly that. Deployed. They will not always be on station 24/7 under your protection. Your programs need to be scalable;

  • Encompassing environments where personnel will find themselves immersing in the local populace

  • Actions in transit with adequate operational planning

  • Active violence events at their primary place of work

  • Active violence events at their place of residence if living off post. Planning for off-post living in austere environments such as Pakistan is vital and can’t be stressed enough

When going hands on, this is the last condition you want to wind up in. If you’ve worked the hood where I took this image, we can be friends and I’ll buy first round.

When going hands on, this is the last condition you want to wind up in. If you’ve worked the hood where I took this image, we can be friends and I’ll buy first round.

Relying on host nation (HN) law enforcement and security services (as per conditions under the Geneva Convention for permanent and temporary diplomatic postings), is not a viable or adequate course of action. It is negligence. Personnel new to a post need to sit a relevant and current environment specific security brief/ training program.

If you are at a place of work, it is important to convey to the first responders the building’s security state:

  • Lock-down - Threat is inside the building and systematically clearing floors/ rooms. Security lock-down is in place and all secure rooms are electronically locked.

  • Lock-out - Threat has been identified outside of the building; external entry/ exit points are secured and holding.

Why is this important? Much like a MIST report (medical communication platform), it lets the first responders prepare their response measures;

  • Do they need to have mechanical/ explosive breaching equipment for continued access throughout building?

  • Is a security cordon required to contain the external threat and how far?

  • If in lock-down, is there a security packet (containing passes) accessible to the first responders who are staging outside?

  • What is the status of personnel (in and out), and is there a triaged set of casualties for first responders to provide immediate care?

This vital yet often overlooked aspect is crucial to saving lives. The latest shooting in Virginia Beach highlights this very real issue and can cost first responders valuable time. They couldn’t access the building due to electronic and mechanically secured doors preventing access. Merely stating “Run, Hide, Fight” and giving generic information is a mindless tactic without further discussing the impact on life and necessary tactics to manage these situations. Don’t be or produce victims.

If you are with your family, and to echo USASOC RSM (ret.) Patrick McNamara, “you are the agent in charge of your own protection detail.” Your priority should not be to engage the suspect and be a hero for everyone. Your role is to be your families hero. Secure your family and extract them from the direct threat. Either;

  • Go back home,

  • Go to the hospital with your wounded

  • For those with adequate real world exposure and training, once your family is secured off-site, provide assistance to the wounded or,

  • If you current employment position allows, engage the threat with approval from HN law enforcement/ security services

Still unsure on where to look for a viable solution? At CAD Group, we offer Active Violence Programs catering for Civilian - NGO - Medical - Embassy employees who will find themselves in any environment. Our Regional Training Teams will be available in Australia in the coming months. Contact us today to be prepared for the threat of tomorrow.