On February 14, 2010 three armed men attacked the New Gethsemane Church in Richmond, CA while church members worshiped God.  In this raw video you will see the church members moments before they were struck violently.

First Priority

Stopping a violent ambush is difficult when the attack is sudden and unannounced.  Most church members believe a church service is a safe area and let their guard down.  However, I would suggest people can only let their guard down only when there is a team of people keeping their eyes out for potential danger.  If eyes are focused on the outside perimeter or entrances are surveyed, unusual signs of danger can be detected before hand.  Of course, not all churches are large enough to have a team of people in place to do this, but many churches have one or two individuals.

Often after a violent encounter, many people come forward and say things like, “I knew he was up to no good,” or “I just had a bad feeling about that guy.”  These feelings of unease or suspicion are your subconcious mind sending your body warnings.  Training yourself to hear your intuition and listening to it are critical to your survival and the survival of those around you.  A good rule of thumb is if you feel it, increase your awareness because 99% of the time your intuition’s warnings are correct.

Second Priority

If an attacker has breached the perimeter or entered undetected and begins a violent assault, someone must take responsibility for stopping the aggression.  Many church security teams have armed members carrying concealed weapons.  If an armed team member has an opportunity to stop the aggressor in armed attack, he should attempt to do so.  This is not always an option.  Often times, an attack happens without warning.  Training allows you to respond to changing conditions and read situations more readily.  If the person responsible for safety and security isn’t mentally prepared ahead of time, he will not respond quickly enough or accrately enough.

Many public assaults or mass shootings involve “high body counts.”  This is the actual goal of the attacking person.  He will continue his plan until challenged by someone who can stop him.  Who in your church has taken this responsibility?  Is he ready and prepared?  Remember, it will take the police a few minutes to arrive, meanwhile people will be injured seriously or die if someone fails to act.

Third Priority

Once the threat has been stopped or leaves the area, it is important to make sure no further violence will occur.  Scanning your area, identifying any additional threats, and making sure the building is secured or locked down is important.  You cannot help victims (and EMS will not respond) until the threat is removed.

Fourth Priority

Assessing the damage, finding victims and determining who can be helped and who cannot be helped is next.  Unfortunately, if someone is shot, not breathing, and appears dead there is nothing you can do to help him.  In a mass casualty incident, helping people who cannot be helped delays aid for people who can be helped.  In a confusing situation like a church shooting, finding people who can be helped is a priority.

Whoever is responsible for calling the police and EMS must stay on the line and keep emergency responders  apprised of what is happening on the scene.  If the known threat is down and secure, police must be advised.  If you are an armed person, it is important to either have yourself identified (see our security banners) or put your weapon away.

Triage and treatment on scene can possibly save lives with simple measures.  Applying pressure to wounds will help stop the bleeding and new developments in torniquet technology have made this a possible intervention for serious wounds.

Having a good medical kit (more than bandaids) on the church property is a great idea, and having someone trained to use it is even better.

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