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The 3 Pillars of Survival

by | Mar 21, 2018 |

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Of the many topics near and dear to me; safety and security is at the top of the list. After a career in law enforcement and now as a person who teaches safety and security programs to police officers, school personnel and people in the business community I see a great need for everyone to really consider what we do in our schools and work places to prepare to effectively respond to danger and violence.
We live in a day and age when an active shooter or mass killer can strike anywhere at any time. When we add in the potential for a lone wolf terrorist to attack out of the blue we have to understand the potential for the danger we face individually and as a society no matter where we live.
Getting the right mindset is critical if we are to survive a violent event; taking advantage of the technology and equipment that is available to us is just as critical and something that can’t be ignored or avoided.
Getting the right mindset means understanding the threats we face, and overcoming the fear that those threats create. It means taking pro-active actions to prepare ourselves, our families, co-workers and friends to react quickly and forcefully should violence erupt. Once we accept this premise and decide to get a survival mindset we have already begun to increase our chances of survival during a deadly event.
Next we need to consider what actions further enhance our odds at surviving a deadly encounter. I have summed these actions up in to Three Pillars of Survival during a life threatening situation like facing an active shooter, mass killer or terrorist.
The first pillar is Preparation; mental and physical. We have to have a response plan and we have to practice our responses before we face danger. The first pillar is personal, you must confront your fears about being in a deadly situation and find a way to overcome that fear; this is not easy so how can we do it? One way we can overcome our fear is to visualize ourselves in a bad situation and ask what we would want to be able to do in that situation. You don’t want the first time you consider survival to be when danger shows up at your door. Preparation is all about thinking ahead to figure out what to do before it happens.
Would we be able to run and hide, do we know where in our buildings we could hide? If you don’t know take a look around and find places now. If you had to fight for your life, are you capable? If the answer is no then you have to take action to get in better shape. Walk a little more, lift a few light weights to tone the muscles; prepare your plan and yourself.
We should also demand this preparation from our schools and businesses and talk to our families about being ready where ever they are, and unfortunately no age is too young. The Angels in Sandy Hook were only 6 and 7 years old, the demons among us don’t care that they attack babies. We don’t have to scare the life out of little kids but we can use age appropriate conversations and practice to prepare them to save themselves. All of us need to prepare, by training, practicing and educating ourselves on the best ways to respond to danger.
The second Pillar of Survival is Communication. We must be able to communicate danger to our co-workers, students and staff as quickly as possible and we must be able to exchange vital information during a violent incident.
There are many excellent products on the market today that can provide that second pillar of protection allowing us to communicate when it is most important.
When it comes to communication, the police and other emergency services people must also be able to talk to each other; communication is the key to the best possible response; and if we who are hiding or fighting for our lives can communicate to the police then our chances of survival grow exponentially.
There are products and equipment available for use in emergencies that can provide that instantaneous communication between us and the police and the police and other first responders, even if we all have different radios or frequencies. The electronic emergency software programs that are available are just as amazing, allowing immediate messaging in any emergency. Being able to exchange timely information in a crisis is vital to survival.
The Third Pillar of Survival is Notification. We have to be able to notify the outside world that we need help, and we must be able to do it quickly, easily and clearly. During a violent event it will be hard to remember intricate code words and operate clumsy equipment. The equipment we use must be ready in an instant and get the word out to the police and others immediately and in some cases silently.
Fast notification of authorities like the police and first aid units when violence strikes can mean the difference between life and death. The police can’t save us if they don’t know were in trouble.
Notification and Communication are linked in our plan for survival and both are just as important as the first pillar, Preparation. The programs and equipment offered today are extremely reliable and cost effective, and they provide that instant and on-going communication between those fighting for their lives and those who would save us.
By seeking out and obtaining the equipment and training I have talked about and practicing our responses in a realistic way with proper drills we cover the three pillars of survival pretty thoroughly and we increase our chances of surviving the unthinkable.
These are scary conversations, ones I know we all wish we didn’t have to engage in, but that is not the world we live in today. To avoid satisfying the three pillars of survival we invite tragedy into our lives. Avoiding this conversation and the actions required only leave us unprepared and vulnerable; all of us must get ready to react while at the same time hoping we never have to, but if we are aware and prepare we may just survive when the violence comes.
I’ll end here with a simple thought that I discuss when teaching people to prepare and survive violence. The biggest obstacle to being prepared is a thought on our part and the parts of those responsible for keeping, us, our kids, our schools and businesses safe- that thought is this- “It will never happen here”.
That single belief, while it is based on statistical fact to a large degree, is going to get people killed. Even though the chances of us or our kids being in the presence of a killer or active shooter is small, I ask my audiences all the time this simple question- “When and where will the next active shooter or deranged mass killer strike?”
To this day no one can answer that question. If they could I would go there and stop the violence and be a big hero, but that will never happen because no one knows when or where the next horrific attack will come. The only thing we can do is be prepared. The three pillars of survival are our guide; learn them, act on them and be safe.

Lt. Joseph Pangaro

Joseph Pangaro is a retired Police Lieutenant from the Township of Ocean, Monmouth County, NJ. During his 27 year career, Lieutenant Pangaro served in many capacities. After nine years as a patrol officer, he was transferred to the detective bureau, where he served 12 years. During that time, Lt. Pangaro prepared and executed hundreds of search warrants, testified in numerous high profile criminal court cases, and excelled in the area of criminal investigations, including; homicides, sexual assaults, drug crimes, fraud, burglary, juvenile investigations, economic crimes, vice crimes, quality of life crimes and other crimes of violence. He has acted in undercover capacities and worked with numerous local, county, state, and federal agencies. Joseph Pangaro served as a sergeant in the detective bureau, supervising a group of highly motivated and active officers in the unit and the “Quality of Life” unit.

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