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Mass Gatherings - are you prepared?

A little less than two weeks ago, we were all shocked and saddened to hear about the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of people were killed and injured in the attacks, including several Americans. This came on the heels of the mass shootings at New Zealand mosques in March and was followed last week by an attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue outside San Diego. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, injured, first responders, and law enforcement working to apprehend those responsible for these horrible events.

 

These dreadful tragedies made me think about how easy it is to become complacent rather than vigilant, or to assume "This couldn't happen to me." A quick summary of a 2018 study by the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) about mass attacks in public spaces in the United States in 2017 is a sobering reminder about the need to remain vigilant:

  • "Between January and December 2017, 28 incidents of mass attacks, during which three or more persons were harmed, were carried out in public places within the United States"

  • "The resulting loss of 147 lives and injury to nearly 700 others had a devastating impact on our nation as a whole."

  • A large majority of the attackers (79%) "engaged in communications or exhibited behaviors that caused concern in others." 

As members of InfraGard, you already know that we all have a role to play in keeping our neighborhoods, communities, and the nation safe against the threats we face. This month, I want to challenge you all to remind your family members, neighbors, coworkers, and others to be vigilant when at mass gatherings or even during your daily routine by doing three things: (1) Be prepared; (2) Don't hesitate - take action; and (3) Assist and react.

 

Be Prepared

  • Take notice of your surroundings and identify potential emergency exit routes.

  • Be aware of unusual behaviors, unattended objects, unexplained odors, or vehicles traveling at abnormal speeds or patterns.

  • Report any suspicious items or activities to law enforcement and/or onsite security personnel.

Don't Hesitate - Take Action

  • If an attack occurs, run to the nearest exit, making use of availableconcealment while moving away from the source of hazard.

  • If you are unable to safely evacuate, hide in a secure area where access can be blocked, or entryways can be locked.

  • If necessary, be prepared to defend yourself by attempting to incapacitate the assailant with any means available.

Assist and React

  • Call 9-1-1 and remain alert for potential secondary attacks.

  • Render first aid when safe to do so.

  • When help arrives, follow instructions given by law enforcement and first responders.

Lastly, I want to make you all aware of an excellent training opportunity that our chapter is sponsoring in collaboration with Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA) of Metropolitan Washington. As part of our "Be A Good Neighbor" webinar series, we are hosting a webinar titled "Virginia Tech: A Survivor's Perspective" with guest speaker Lisa Hamp on May 30th. 

 

In the study of mass shootings, the perspective of survivors adds an important element of understanding for our law enforcement, mental health professionals, and our larger communities, to better understand how to increase our prevention, response, and recovery capabilities. In this webinar, Ms. Hamp, as a student from the only classroom to successfully prevent multiple entry attempts during the Virginia Tech school shooting, will share her personal experience during and after the shooting. She will discuss best practices for active shooter prevention,

considerations for crisis and emergency preparedness, guidelines for thinking about safety, and considerations for rebuilding communities after tragedy. She will also discuss the long-term psychological impact of witnessing mass violence, and considerations for short and long-term recovery. You won't want to miss this excellent educational opportunity, so register today before it is full!  Registration was sent via a broadcast message from the InfraGard portal.  Once you register, connection details will come directly from Zoom, our webinar platform.

 

Thank you for being an active member of InfraGard and for serving our community, and a special thank you to Matt Smith, our Commercial Facilities Sector Chief for arranging to have Ms. Hamp speak for the May 30th webinar.

 

With best regards,

Steve

 

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