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Article and Photo by Alice Gerard
In an active shooter situation, the most important three words for people to know are run, hide and fight, said Derek Staubitz, who offered a free active shooter response training on March 25 at Hybrid Defense, his martial arts school, located at 2445 Grand Island Blvd.
“Run, hide, fight is my recommendation, and I think it should be as commonly known as stop, drop and roll (as a response to catching on fire),” Staubitz said. “Run, hide, fight is a very simple system, where I know that, if I can escape the situation, that’s always the best option. If I feel it would be dangerous to try to run or to escape, then hiding is the next most important thing that I can do. I want to make sure that I hide in a way that is not going to make me a target, should I be found. I want to put myself in a position where I can best defend myself, should I be found.
“I want to be in a position where I’m not seen until the last second. When I am seen, I have an opportunity in some way to defend myself, should I need to. Probably not crisscross with your legs. Probably not flat on your back or on your belly. Usually a squatted position, maybe on one knee. Or even all the way on your feet if you’ve got a good cover, so you can stand up tall and be hidden. All of these are good options.”
Staubitz explained that superior physical strength is not required to defend oneself in an active shooter situation.
“I can’t depend on physical strength,” he said. “I don’t know if I am going to be stronger than the person I am dealing with. I want to make sure that I’m able to overwhelm them. That is really the key. I want to get some hold on the firearm and some hold on (the shooter). We will really just try to motivate them to let the firearm loose, usually through concussive actions, either slamming them into the wall or running into them or anything I can do to make them loosen up for a moment, where we can get access to that firearm or to get them to lie down on the ground.”
Because the techniques Staubitz taught during the workshop are not dependent on superior physical strength, people of any age can learn them.
“Elderly people can stack (pile on an attacker) in the same way,” he said. “Though they aren’t as strong as somebody younger, they are just as heavy. If they put their body weight on somebody, they can get them into a wall or onto the ground and make them stop aiming that firearm in the way they intended to do so. The use of body weight is hugely to their advantage.”
Small children have less physical strength, but there are things that they can do to repel an attacker, Staubitz said.
“In a school setting especially, what I saw in Israel is that the schoolchildren are taught, if someone comes in the classroom during an active shooter situation, where they’ve heard fire and now an entrance has been made, and there’s an active shooter in the building, to throw everything that’s on their desk, from crayon boxes to pencil cases to pens and pencils,” he explained. “Older children even throw chairs at the person to give the teacher enough time to jump on the attacker. Kindergarten kids are taught that, if there’s an active shooter in the building, you launch everything on the desk at them until the teacher is able to jump.”
Staubitz said self-defense is something that everyone has the right to practice.
“Everyone has the right to protect themselves, but not everyone has the knowledge,” he said. “I think that it’s so important that we continue to spread this mindset if we know what to do if we’re on fire: stop, drop and roll. But we don’t know what to do if somebody’s shooting people. Run, hide, fight needs to be just as quick in our minds.”
A mindset is necessary, Staubitz said, in a dangerous situation, but fear is a common emotion.
“I agree that we are all afraid, and that fear can be calmed a bit when we know what we do in that situation,” he said. “The biggest fear an active shooter is I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know when the police are going to arrive. I would like to be able to take some of those factors out. Let’s learn what to do, and learn how to handle it if the police can’t get there for whatever reason. So, we know how to better protect ourselves. We have the right to life, but we need the ability to protect that right.”
Staubitz said he is available to work with individuals, families, community centers, senior citizen centers and schools.
“I do lessons across Western New York,” he said. “I can be found at hybriddefensegi.com. I’m also available by text or call 716-807-5372. You can contact me for a single seminar or for a series of seminars. I’m willing to work with people ages 13 and up for a majority of these classes.”