When seconds count . . . (courtesy msnbc.com)

“When you look at all the data you find that the huge majority of active shooter incidents are over by the time law enforcement is able to get involved, usually in 90 seconds to two minutes. Out of nearly 300 cases, I could find only 26 incidents where officers arrived from off-site in time to actually interrupt the killing and influence the outcome.” – Dr. Bill Lewinski,  Force Science Institute Behavioral Science Director, High Risk Hostage Encounters [click here for the podcast]

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41 Responses to Quote of the Day: Who Are the First Responders Edition

    • I think Dr. Bill Lewinski is claiming that most active shooter incidents are over in 90 seconds to 2 minutes. I don’t he is claiming that law enforcement usually arrive in 90 seconds to 2 minutes.

    • He’s saying that the incident is over long before the highly compensated public employees arrive on the scene to start filling out paperwork and asking when they start clocking overtime.

  1. You are the first responder in any accident, fire or crime not the police, fire department or EMT. You are there when it happens not the “professionals.” It is your duty as a citizen to come to the aid of your fellow man and render aid up to your capability. Sometimes all you can do is call 911 but you are on scene long before the second responders show up.

    • + 1000

      I have been the first person on scene of crimes and traffic collisions … well before police, fire, EMS, etc. While I am not police, fire, EMS, my intervention made a serious difference in the outcome of those events. Do NOT underestimate how much you can contribute to a positive outcome.

  2. I’ve been saying this for a while now, particularly when talking with acquaintances who are not pro-2a. Police and other emergency response personnel aren’t usually present when the emergency is occurring. First responders are the people already present and involved.

  3. We cannot overstate the importance of immediate armed resistance in an active shooter scenario. I forget the exact number but a large majority of active shooters promptly commit suicide when they see a “good guy with a gun” who is going to shoot back at them. As for the rest of the active shooters who have no plan to commit suicide, some immediately surrender. The rest engage the “good guy with the gun” which means they are no longer executing defenseless victims.

    All three possible outcomes are excellent outcomes because all three outcomes seriously reduce the number of casualties compared to waiting for police to show up. (Note: I suppose the active shooter could ignore the “good guy with a gun” and attempt to keep executing defenseless victims. But I don’t see how the shooter could continue that activity for very long if the “good guy with a gun” is actively trying to stop them.)

    There really is no down side to having immediate armed resistance on site. I have no idea why anyone opposes that.

    • We should also NB that many of these ‘active shooters’ kill themselves at the first sign of opposition or capture. ie, most of them don’t get into duels with the first responders (be they people on the scene or LEO’s showing up after the fact).

  4. I’ve often grappled with the concept of ‘first responder’ and it’s appellation to fire, EMS, police but have never attempted to work out the syntax.
    Having been the actual ‘first responder’ to various medical emergencies, auto accidents, a few fires and several crimes (violent and otherwise) I sometimes marvel at how a person who actually responds to an emergency is often viewed as some sort of oddity.
    I suppose the litigious nature of society, increasing alienation attendant on the breakdown of the old social rules and increasing urbanization are just a few of the factors at play and perhaps I’m an anachronism; a man raised to believe that the value of his life isn’t fixed, but rather fluctuates based on what he does with it and the attendant idea that as an individual one is empowered to take action based on one’s own assessment of a situation.
    Of course there are risks, and discretion is always the better part of valor, but my calculus doesn’t equate survival by means of cowardice and indifference to others as being either valuable or acceptable.
    In the remote context of an active shooter this means engaging said shooter if any effective means of doing so exist. Not to wax too poetic but there are some people who just naturally run toward the sound of guns while anyone can find or manufacture any number of excuses not too. For the armed citizen, the conversation is largely about defense, about avoiding, evading or dealing with a direct personal threat. It’s something more of a warrior ethos that drives one to seek out an active shooter and attempt to put an end to his action. It goes against the grain of the average CCW holder’s line of thinking. However, after searing my lungs with smoke in a neighbors house, being covered in the blood of total strangers sans protective gear while attempting to care for accident victims, kicking in the door of a strange house to rescue a dog from a house fire and the various other ordinarily undesirable, dangerous, and socially unacceptable or even quasi- illegal actions that one takes when one has chosen to get involved, not engaging an active shooter in a public place isn’t an option that fits with my ethos.
    I do not think we as a people have become less brave, only less caring, less engaged and less empowered. I do not think this is an accident. While I hesitate to turn this into a political polemic, I cannot but say that it is the deleterious effects of the brand of progressivism and collectivism continuously drummed into us by the MSM and others that has the effect of causing us to cocoon and ignore what we know is right.
    I also think those concepts of individual immunity from responsibility for one’s self and the others in ones environment, the placing of self above others and the curtailing of individual initiative in the face of adversity are the sum of the disempowerment, narcissism and cowardice so rampant among some groups in society. These have always been there, it’s only that now we tend to treat their failings as people as if they had some valid social and political value instead of what they are; failings.
    At the risk of overstepping the question, part of the cure is realizing that it’s ok to strive to be more than what just anyone can be, it’s ok to shame a coward, and it’s ok to call social and political dishonesty to cover cowardice for what they are; self serving lies. Put plainly, it’s ok to try to be a hero, even if legions of people who know good and well they don’t have the stomach for it will call you a fool, a vigilante, a glory hound or whatever it is they must call you to quiet the demons in their own minds that call them out for the cowards they are. We can always silence our own doubts by stepping up the next time the need arises, and when we do, right thinking people everywhere will call it for what it is, honor and duty, the stuff that heroes are made from.

    • I was going to post this story as an independent thought but you have said what I was thinking with much more elegance.

      I ran across this story from Calgary which explains why the idea of the concept of the citizen as first responder is dying. Note that the school principal said that the student in question should have not intervened even if it meant the victim died.

      http://gawker.com/hero-teen-punished-by-school-for-stopping-knife-wieldin-511001195

      Progressives aren’t interested in creating shepherds or sheep dogs. They want sheep.

      • Thank you for taking the time to read all that, and your kind words. Thanks also for the article.
        What you say is all too true, sheepdogs might attempt to protect the flock from not only the wolves, but also a bad shepherd, not something that makes progressives sleep well at night.
        It seems to me that in my interaction with youth these days there is a common thread; They are universally shocked by my personal empowerment and the concept of initiative. When I was in my teens a man who had a pistol on his side was simply more interesting than one who didn’t, these teens seemingly always ask one question first, “Do you have a permit?” I do, but these encounters are usually on private property and involve open carry which in Ohio is two separate reasons why a permit isn’t necessary. It’s shocking to me that in a single (ok one and a half) generation so much could have changed. This is rural Ohio, not NYC. I shudder to think what the children of these teens are going to think about liberty, personal empowerment, the constitution and particularly 2A.
        I suppose all one can do is push the goblins back into the darkness as far as possible and hope for the best.

        • Two things about this I have come to realize. First responders are not just an oddity they also attract liability and scorn from armchair quarterbacks long after the event.
          The other thing I see is young people have come to view being armed as something only the “authorities” or those empowered by government rather than their fellow citizens. These people are not Gods nor infallible. And they certainly can be ordered to do bad things, like disarm people after a hurricane leaving them to the tender mercies of looters.
          When armed citizens are viewed as a threat just because they are armed we have a problem.

      • I just read that article tdiinva

        I love the ‘we don’t condone heroics’ line. No one ‘condones’ heroics, for they don’t require or request it, but honest and honorable people will at least celebrate heroics when they occur, rather than pretend as if it were some dirty thing to be avoided. Their own shame I think prevents them from recognizing the right thing done, knowing they themselves couldn’t have done it. Collectivism hates excellence.

        • con•done (kənˈdoʊn)

          v.t. -doned, -don•ing.
          1. to disregard or overlook (something illegal, objectionable, etc.).
          2. to give tacit approval to: By his silence, he seemed to condone their behavior.
          3. to pardon or forgive (an offense); excuse.

          So ‘heroics’ are now a offense to be overlooked or forgiven. Welcome to bizarro world.

  5. First responders discover the problem.
    If they can’t solve the problem, they call 911 (in the USA.)
    The person (the 911 operator) who answers that call is the second responder.
    The person (the dispatcher) who sends help is the third responder.
    The officer/EMT/fireman is the fourth responder.

  6. I’m sure it’s out there (Hell, I probably saw it here at one point), but I’d love to see a study like this that shows the difference in the number of victims from active shooter incidents that are stopped by ‘average Joes’ and those stopped by law enforcement intervention.

    I have a feeling it would seriously destroy the anti’s claim that we can’t be trusted with guns because we’ll just spray and pray.

  7. or maybe they were already there, and you know, sat in the parking lot and waited. not that that every happens here in the US of A.

    • There are heroes and cowards in and out of uniform, and discretion is ever the better part of valor. However making an entry into a chaotic and unknown situation is considerably more dangerous than engaging a known threat. It’s not only easier and faster for an armed citizen to engage an active shooter, it’s arguably safer as well.
      Training (and the real world) dictate that doorways and other funnel points are serious hazards in a gunfight. I’d be more inclined to engage immediately a threat in something theaters sized, or encountered while seeking out gunfire in a mall that I would be to rush through the door of either while shots were being fired inside. That holds true even if inside the situation I’m unarmored and armed only with a small pistol and outside armored and equipped with an appropriate rifle. ‘Going in’ in much of the hazard and it should give anyone contemplating it pause. Dying to no effect isn’t an effective response. Just one more reason why the police are so often a mop up crew, and the true first responder is ideally someone who is already there.

      • You have just indentified the reason why citizen DGUs have a much lower rate of friendly fire incidents than the police. The citizen, who normally responding to an attack on himself or those who are close to him/her, has far better situational awareness than the responding police.

        • Exactly so. The people on the scene know, with pretty high certainty, who the bad actors are.

          When the LEO’s show up, their action is often to treat everyone as a threat – in the interests of “officer safety,” of course.

        • They are focused on guns and uniforms. A plainclothes detective or an off duty officer is just as much at risk as a private citizen.

        • I’m nearly certain there was an article on this in TTAG a while back but I don’t recall enough of it to find it again. It’s worth noting that there is a real danger of being shot by police responding to an active shooter call if you are engaging the shooter or even just visibly armed. It’s advisable to reholster ASAP once the threat is defeated, or in the event that the threat is ongoing when the police arrive to disengage as quickly as possible and reholster.
          One can consider ‘surrender’ in the event that hostilities are continuing when the uniformed officers arrive. This is just what it sounds like, proneing out, discarding ones weapon and awaiting arrest. Being mistaken for a bad actor and arrested is preferable to being mistaken for a bad actor and shot.
          I’ve spent some time handcuffed and saying little while waiting for the police to work out exactly what they drove up on, and fortunately have been released at the scene.
          Once the uniforms are on site realize that you’re likely a liability to them, the public and yourself if you stay in the fight. Withdraw, report and follow directions.

  8. Said another way, in less than 9% of cases studied officers responded in enough time to stop the killing.

  9. I’m a Nurse therefore obligated to stop at accidents and such if no ems on site, but I was doing it long before I was a nurse. Active shooter, I would cover the retreat of others but I don’t think hearing gunfire would make me want to run towards the shots. I’m no coward but too many variables to consider and I hope to God I’m never in that position…

  10. Living in a remote area I am used to having LE not show up at all.
    On any given day there are only 3-10 patrol units covering an area
    the size of Rhode Island. Often fire or EMS handles a problem and
    LE gets notified after the fact. When an LEO is needed it is not
    uncommon to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.
    If an active shooting occurs, it is entirely possible ( if not probable)
    that there will be and “All Call” simply because no LEO are
    anywhere near the area.

  11. First add 5 min. as 911 gives you a hard time, second just hope you live close to the coffee shop where the cops hang out… you are on your own for 6 to 20 min’s…

  12. This is only sort-of related, but I wanted to make sure everyone here knows about this:

    http://www.cato.org/guns-and-self-defense

    It’s an interactive map with DGU incidents recorded and sorted. I’d be surprised if it weren’t posted here at some point, but I just found it the other day doing research on DGUs. I took an hour or so and went through local news stories and submitted maybe 20 or 25 that fit what they are looking for.

    Just wanted to suggest that some of you who watch the news and support the cause here might take a moment to add any verifiable news/police report of a DGU. I think this map could be a good thing to point to when people don’t realize the prevalence of the use of guns by peaceable citizens as a deterrent, preventative or cure for crime. I am sure there are many thousands more incidents that could be added to it, but AFAIK it relies on volunteer submissions.

    I also recommend this paper also found there: http://store.cato.org/reports/tough-targets-when-criminals-face-armed-resistance-citizens (you can read a version or maybe it’s the whole thing, lower down on the page). It’s a fairly written review in scholarly style of how guns are really used for defense, and naturally, that means it comes down squarely on our side.

  13. The police and the ems and the firefighters respond and do it as quickly as they can AFTER thet have been notified of the problem. I have been involved in enough emergencies of many types to know this to be a fact, most of our official first responders are good people who want to help. 9/11 happened in one of the most corrupt cities in America and look how many 1st responders were among the dead.

    But, and there’s always a But, these people can’t be everywhere and they don’t have a sci-fy transporter device. All citizens who are capable should have the ability to protect themselves until the official first responders arrive.

    i have first aid kits at home and in my car. I have emergencie kits in case of disaster at home and my car. The same with fire extinguishers.

    I would really like to add a gun to my away from home preps. Someday the constitution will be in affect in California, also.

  14. Just wanted to add a real life sample , wife is in front yard doing work, i am out back doing stuff, down the street runs this guy all bloody and mess up, right behind him , are 14 young adult males , he sees my wife ask for help,was let in our fenced yard, wife runs calls 911, i come out front and face down this group, they got chains , tire irons, you name it, 911 gives wife a very hard time , saying to her we have no gangs in this town, i have to face down and calm this gang, long story short as everyone was behind their front doors messing them self, no cops every came as 911 did not think was any gangs in this PA. town ……… and this is only one sample i got about 10 more to tell… YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN..

    • The highly compensated public servants at dispatch know so very much more than you did. I mean, what evidence did you have other than those 14 young males in your face? Did you have all sorts of Powerpoint presentations given to elected officials of your county and state to back up your claims of a gang in your front yard? No. If you want to convince political leaders and your local senior police that there are gangs in your neighborhood, you’ll need to get yourself some Powerpoint slides.

      I’m sure the 911 dispatcher had all manner of pronouncements from high-ranking officers with lots of fancy gold trim on their uniforms (and really nifty hats) on which to base her assertion(s). And that counts for so much more than your little slice of reality, doesn’t it?

      After all, isn’t this why we pay those ‘public servants’ so handsomely? To know these things to such a high degree of certainty?

    • Did paramedics come for the injured man? And how did you face the crowd armed or unarmed? I have had people attempt to break in my house called police and no response, both times my 125 pound Newfoundland chased them away before I could even get Mr Mossberg to intervene… Like someone posted a few days ago, get past motion lights, locked doors, and big dog you get the heaters.

      • No one came , HE was able to call his mother, who came and took him to the doctor (close by), my wife even called state police (PA) no show,,, and it was toe to toe, but had i not had a fence they would have took him and me down. My wife did yell the police are coming. I had to yell you come in here you are in trouble…etc..

  15. I’m not a shepherd. I’m not a sheep dog. I’m just a guy with a gun who will use it to defend “me and mine.” If a stranger chooses not to be able to defend himself, he shouldn’t look to me for help because it won’t be coming. That stranger will just have to wait until someone responds to my 911 call.

    As for those who cannot (as opposed to will not) defend themselves, of course I’ll do what I can, but I’m not going to die for them. They can hire someone to do that.

    People need to understand that they are their own first responders. Nobody else is. Not the cops, and certainly not me. The world will be pretty safe when people take responsibility for defending themselves.

  16. Can’t believe I’m the first to note this but… trigger safety alert! That jackhole in the photo is running with his booger hook on the bang switch.

    Bet you $5 that he racked a round into the chamber as soon as he pulled that shotgun out of the trunk, too…

  17. For anyone who can’t figure this one out, IT IS THE VICTIM who is the 1st responder to a crime, accident or tragedy!!! Everyone else are nothing more than the 2nd string.

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