Published: December 7, 2016
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
On Nov. 28 students and staff at Ohio State University were sent a series of tweets containing these words – “Run, Hide, Fight” – because that morning someone had plowed into a crowd of students and then attempted to stab anyone who crossed his path. Up to 11 students were sent to hospital during the incident.
Upon hearing the news last week it wasn’t the attack that caught my attention because really if a US state goes more than a month without a mass shooting and/attack I think it’s impressive. It was the text alert – the message sent to more than 55,000 students and staff that started with “active shooter on campus” and finished with three magic words.
If I had received a text with just the magic words I would have assumed it was sports lingo, something cut from the motivational facebook memes that so often drive me crazy or a options list shared among friends on how to push through a run in with a bully, a boss and/or a dreaded ex.
According to numerous media networks the three words are a standard protocol warning in an active shooter situation. It means essentially to evacuate if possible, get silently out of view or take action to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter if life is in imminent danger.
Reading these words and imagining receiving them sent a chilling shiver throughout my body and mind. It’s the first time I have had an emotional reaction to the news of a school attack for some time, probably since the Sandy Hook shootings in December 2012, which saw 20 children, and six staff members gunned down. There have been countless more attacks but its time to face the facts. We are becoming numb to the violence.
And how can you not – in the US year to date totals for firearm-related deaths at this time last year was 12,236 deaths and a further 24,755 injuries from shootings. That casualty toll included 640 children under the age of 11. In Canada statistics are harder to find and are dated. Statistics Canada reports that in 2012 when the US saw 8,813 murders by firearm here in Canada we had 172. That number may have increased since then but there is no indicators that say it has gotten anywhere close what is experienced by our neighbours to the south.
At Ohio State there were limited casualties, 11 hospitalized after the attack and the assailant shot. The gunshots reported during the incident were actually that of the cop that was taking down the assailant, who was only wielding his car and his knife as a weapon. Comparatively speaking the situation is a win, just another news story headed to the background of the next news cycle. At least now I know what Run, Hide, Fight really means.