What keeps you up at night?
For me, it’s recently been the idea of “run, hide, fight,” which is survival advice for when there is an active shooter. Those are scary words for someone with a disability. My disability may be “invisible,” but I won’t be invisible to a shooter, and it prevents me from running to safety. Even if I am wearing my ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) braces, I could never outrun someone. This thought keeps me up at night. What would my son do when he is with me? What do I do when faced with a situation in which I have to run but can’t?
According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, you should:
- Develop a buddy system for assistance in evacuation
- Develop a plan to conceal yourself to avoid the attacker
- Think creatively about how to use your devices as weapons to defend yourself.
These suggestions do not put my mind at ease. They raise more questions and concerns for me. Relying on a person to help me evacuate can put them in more danger. What if I slow them down too much, and they get stuck in harm’s way? I could never live with that guilt.
Concealing myself could work if I am able to get to a safe place. This would take some planning and knowledge of buildings and areas. I would need to have an idea of safe places I can easily access, which would require hyper-awareness upon entering the location. I am not sure I would always remember to do that. There has to be another way.
How does one think of “creative uses” for devices to protect oneself? I guess I could use my cane (if I have it with me) to hit the attacker over the head. I could also take off my carbon fiber AFO and hit the attacker. However, I am not sure I have the upper body strength to do anything other than make the attacker angry. Maybe using my devices is not the best idea.
My older brother was an emergency medical technician. He told me, “If you can’t get out, you lie down on the ground and play dead.” That seems doable, yet still has some downsides. What if people don’t see you, and trample you? What if no one comes back for you? But, yes, those are definitely better options than facing an active shooter.
It scares and saddens me that I need to even think about what to do in a situation that is everyone’s worst nightmare. Why do I need to have a talk with my teenage son about how he should run to safety and not worry about me if we find ourselves in that situation? How can I help him not to worry or lose sleep over this? How do I not lose sleep over this? If we live in fear, then they win. But how do we prepare for the worst without living in fear? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
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