I remember reading on your blog that the best thing to do when gunfire
occurs in a crowded area is to get as flat on the ground as you can
and move to cover.
The question I have is: What do all of the other people do?
I recognize that lying flat provides a smaller target and thus least
likely chance to be hit by gunfire. In my mind, it also provides the
largest opportunity for being trampled by a stampeding crowd if
everybody else does not get flat on the ground.
Thank you for considering my question,
Hi Nolan, you often have cover in the form of various urban installations, building corners, and other objects but its more complicated than just finding a place to hide. Concealment doesn’t mean cover and knowing which is which requires a bit more advanced knowledge so as to know what will stop a certain projectile or not. A metal mailbox may stop a 22LR, but 2 layers of thin metal wont do much to stop 9mm, let alone rifle shots. A brick or cement wall gives you good cover, but if its just an ordinary siding then its probably a wood or metal frame structure in which case its just concealment.
Earth and sand, either in bags, raised beads or in flower pots. A feet of packed dirt will stop less powerful rounds, but its better to have at least two.
Cement power posts are good cover, don’t even bother with a wooden benches, wood plank fences or pine wood boxes as seen in the movies, that’s just concealment and nearly all rounds will go right through it.
Going around a corner, behind a car where the engine is (the metal alone in the car wont protect you much, specially if its rifle shots or big bore handguns) 9mm, which is the most common police, and military issue handgun caliber as we’ll as the most poplar one for self defense, that penetrates better than bigger projectiles that have better stopping power.
When you don’t have concealment within a few yards and you hear shoots fires, yes, your best option is laying flat on the ground. It does not hurt at all and its actually an interesting mental exercise to take note of the possible cover you find as you walk during your daily routine, similar to checking the exits when you walk into a building or seating looking towards the door when at a restaurant.
Getting stomped to death by the mass? Can happen, you’ll have to use your head.
Say I’m in Constitucion train station at rush hour, packed like a can of sardines. No shots needed, if you lay on the floor people will just stomp on you to death.
If shots are fired, I’d stay on my feet to avoid just that, even try to get closer to a wall which generally moves faster than in the center of the crowded place. I also know that in such packed places, the mass of people works as cover and I wouldn’t worry much about getting shot unless I’m very close to the shooter.
Other than that, take note of the place, make sure you wont hit the ground at an exit point where people will be rushing to. Other than that, hitting the floor is your best survival alternative when shots are fired and there’s no concealment near by.