Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Unexpected Event: Lessons Learned

Almost everyone in my area would be aware of a shooting that took place two days ago at our local Walmart. For those not in my area, and who didn't watch the news, I can provide you with the story fairly well, especially since I was there.

I was down at the gas station, about 100 yards across the parking lot. Little did I know what was about to unfold. A woman and her husband of 20 years had been fighting at home earlier that morning. She left for work (Walmart) and he followed her. After unsuccessfully trying to run her over with his truck as she walked into the building, he stopped his truck, got out, went towards her, fired his shotgun four times at her, then ran back to his truck and took off. Hard to miss that sound, even from 100 yards. Knowing that he had left, and it had already been at least a minute, I grabbed my get-home bag, which included a first-aid kit, and ran to the woman to try to help. I was the first person to get there that wasn't just standing back and whispering. For anyone who has never personally seen someone lying on the ground bleeding because of gunshot wounds, I do not wish that on you. It's one thing to see it on television, another entirely to be right next to the woman on the ground. It's not an image soon forgotten.
It turns out that there was nothing I was able to do for her but keep the sun out of her eyes. The story does get better, then to the lessons of it. Her husband was caught half an hour later and charged with attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and felony reckless endangerment. The woman was about as lucky as she could be in such a situation for two reasons:
1. he used birdshot - low penetration, and wasn't very close by the pattern of the wounds
2. he was a bad shot - all he hit was her legs and an arm.
The woman was taken to the hospital and expected to fully recover.

Now the lessons, or perhaps more thoughts, we'll see.
First, don't assume that it can't happen where you are. All of us in the area were just as shocked as the woman who got shot. It even got the attention of one of my co-workers who formerly was entirely against the idea of having a firearm in the kiosk under the counter, and she now wants one there, because in her words, "I never expected anything like this would happen here."

Second, I need to get a good spare mag holder or fix mine up to keep the magazine in it when running. It fell out while I was running to her, which could have been deadly if I was the target.

Third, medical training and a GOOD first aid kit. I didn't have anything to help her besides gauze, which my limited supply and her extensive holes didn't do much good for. Worse than that, I got there and didn't even know what to do to help properly, and I was the only one who even cared enough to try to help for the first 5 minutes until her boss got out there and tried to make me leave. Didn't happen. Police got there soon after, at which point I did leave. They knew much more what they were doing, because they had training. What would I have done if it was my wife or a friend who had gotten shot, and I was there feeling that helpless. I don't want that. I will be seeking out some certification in Emergency Medical training now. Anyone know where to get started on that?

Finally, the question I think anyone who carries a gun would ask - what would I have done if I hadn't been 100 yards away, but 10 yards. This one calls for a lot of self-examination. State the obvious - I had my weapon on me, ready to roll in its holster, just like always. If I was closer, would I have been paying enough attention to my surroundings (aka situational awareness) to know what was happening and to react? How would I have reacted? Would I have seen the shotgun and an angry black man and immediately said he was a threat? Would I have frozen? Would I have been so shaky as to be a threat to others when I drew my weapon? Would I have run at the sight of the shotgun, knowing all I had was a pistol? I like to think not, considering the actions I did take, but again, I was fairly certain the scene was safe when I started running towards it. Then again, I wasn't there right when it happens, so who knows?

As much as I, and many sheepdogs like me, tend to run scenarios through our head to try to train ourselves into a mental and physical response, you still don't know how you will react. When you are that close to a situation, it makes you question a lot of yourself. Now, I know that I still will continue to carry and train with my weapon, and to prepare mentally, there's just a set of feelings that I can't quite put to words. I've been trying to figure out how to put this for two days, and still don't know how. So, I guess I'll stop here. Perhaps someone can help me who has been there. That's all for now.

Be safe out there.

Act Free

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