Listen to yourself to survive

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist

Growing up, I got in a handful of schoolyard brawls. These were mostly wrestling matches until the teacher, coach, or others pulled the two apart.

The first time I was truly knocked out in a fight was in Marine Corps boot camp while we were boxing. At the time, each Marine recruit is matched with another recruit in a small, walled area that is no more than about three feet wide. In essence, there is no escape — all you have to do is swing and you’ll hit your opponent. Two-minute drills may seem short, but it’s an eternity when fists are flying.

My first match started with the whistle, and the next thing I recall is the corpsman pushing ammonia capsules up my nose to wake me up. Once they got me to my feet, they gave me a drink of water and put me back in there. I couldn’t run or hide. so my third option (actually a requirement) was to fight.

I had just learned that getting knocked out in a fight was no fun and I had no intention of repeating that error. I put the mouthpiece in and returned to the box with the desire to return the favor. I got knocked down again. It took me several rounds before I was able to figure out a strategy and ultimately walk out of the box instead of crawl.

When faced with an adversary that intends to do us harm, humans enter into a fight or flight survival mode. This mode is what you should understand in the event someone enters your workplace, recreation building, or school shooting a gun. Run, hide, or fight. An active shooter has one thing to accomplish when he enters a building and that is to kill as many people as he can.

-Run — Always be aware of your surroundings. Know where exits are, including windows. Do not restrict yourself to a room where there are no exits. Do not stop for a purse or phone, and don’t allow someone to slow you down.

-Hide — If you don’t think you can get away, hide. Try and find something heavy and thick to hide behind. Bullets can travel through walls. If you’re in an office or a room, lock the door.

-Fight — As a last resort, or if you are in very close proximity to the shooter, fight. This is only as a last resort, but your survival rate is much higher if you try to incapacitate the shooter. Remember, if you fight, fight hard — you’re fighting a coward. Your instinct for survival is much stronger than you can imagine.

We focus so much on fire exits, fire alarms and rules that tell us how many people can be in a room before it is a fire hazard, but we don’t think about what is much more likely to happen than your school or office burning to the ground. You have options, but you won’t know what you will do until that day comes. Run, hide, fight.

Capt. Chris George is a commander with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He can be reached at