Escape, Evade, and Engage Never Made Sense to Me
Move! Escape or Attack offers a more efficient response to active shooter scanarios.
Shelter-in-place is a sure way to get killed, but it’s actually the default response for most people. That’s because people tend to freeze when trouble starts. We freeze and try to figure out what’s going on.
After freezing, once our minds have constructed a logical explanation of the emerging situation, we are told to go down a checklist of actions:
Escape. This is the first option and should be attempted or considered until it proves impossible. Then,
Evade. This means hide using cover and/or concealment. (Cover means you have some reliable barrier between yourself and shooter. Concealment means simply making it hard to find.) When that fails, and only as a last resort, try:
Engage. This means mounting a counterattack.
Mike Wood, a 30-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol and author of numerous books, says Escape, Evade, Engage (aka, Run, Hide, Fight) is a flawed approach precisely because it ignores how people actually respond to emergencies.
The worst thing a potential victim can do in an active shooter situation is to freeze in position in a state of confusion or shock. Unfortunately, this is also the most likely response to sudden violence (even if just temporarily), so it’s vital to prepare people for this possibility, and get them thinking in advance about ways to recognize and fix this problem if it occurs. Forewarned is forearmed.
Wood offers a much more proactive and efficient method for training people how to deal with active shooters: Move! Escape or Attack. Here’s the fatal flaw in Escape, Evade, and Engage (alternatively called Run, Hide, Fight):
In the "Run, Hide, Fight" (RHF) model, a potential victim is advised to "run," and if that’s not possible, to "hide," and only if all other options have been exhausted, to "fight." Fighting is clearly treated as a secondary option, compared to the primary "run" or "hide" alternatives, and can only be chosen as a last resort, when nothing else has worked. Actors in RHF training films are invariably depicted using force only when their barricaded hide position has been breached, cementing the idea that it’s not suitable as a primary response.
Once your hiding area has been breached, your a trapped rat, a sitting duck reduced to countering a rifle with a paper clips and text books. You’ll likely lose that fight.
So, what’s the answer?
Move! Escape or Attack
Wood’s method trains people to get moving immediately and analyze the situation on the go.
For victims near the shooter, it’s important the "move" command doesn’t require a time consuming or mentally taxing choice between options (which could prolong a freeze), only immediate compliance. Analysis and decision comes later, after the victim has helped himself by moving "off the X." In training, the concepts of cover, concealment and angular movement (instead of running straight away from the shooter) can be addressed in conjunction with the "move" command.
Then, instead of checking down through a series of prioritized steps, choose one of two equally viable missions: escape or attack.
By treating ‘attack’ as an equally viable option, those with the ability and desire to stop the attacker are free to do so. This is a great alternative for veterans who tend found the old E-E-E method passive and dangerous. When my company conducted intruder training, a few of us veterans vowed that, no matter what, we would immediately determine that escape and evade were impossible and more straight to planning and executing a counterattack. Better to be shot in the face in full stride toward the shoot than shot in the back running down the stairs. like George Costanza.
In other words, Move! Escape or Attack is both more realistic and more effective than E-E-E or RHF. It turns passive victims into an active counter force.
If you are responsible for your organization’s safety programs, consider learning more about Move! Escape or Attack.
Read Mr. Wood’s entire article on Police One. And check out his previous article detailing the flaws of Run, Hide, Fight.