The ears are a tricky thing, especially when it comes to sounds that you don’t hear everyday. When you have all of your senses available to you, none of them are as a good as when you have lost one or more. When we lose our eyesight, our hearing develops to compensate for our lack/inability to see. Our body and mind depends more on the ability to hear and uses this new found ability to guide us thru life. That’s the first challenge we must overcome.
Next, architects and constructors don’t always build every facet of a building with acoustics in mind. Meaning that unless they are building the Walt Disney Hall, they are not too concerned with how sounds travels thru the building. This is the second challenge we must overcome when using our ears in an emergency situations.
I had the fortunate experience to listen in on a private call (as part of the Iron Council) with Clint Emerson (Retired Navy Seal including Elite Seal Team 6) where the conversation turned to active shooters in schools. Clint explained a drill that he performs where he places school staff in a conference room and then goes down the hall into the fire escape and fires a round off. He then comes back to the conference room and asks the staff where the shot came from. 99% of the staff get the direction of the sound wrong. This is a huge issue in active shooter scenarios, here’s why.
If you can’t locate the direction of the shot but believe that you can, you are likely to run in the direction of the shooter, thinking you are running away. As you can guess, this spells trouble and even death for you or some of your students.
What should you do?
First and foremost, do as they do in Missouri – show me. Or better yet, put eyes on the shooter. While the standard protocol is Run, Hide, Fight, make sure that you know you have an active shooter and that you are running the correct direction. Seeing is believing.