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12 May

How Everyday Citizens Can Help Protect the Public

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is tasked with protecting our citizens from threats. These encompass external and internal threats, as well as those both natural and man-made.1 Perhaps most notably, the DHS bears the responsibility of keeping its citizens safe from, and during, situations of mass violence. From the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to the Sandy Hook shooting, the DHS does everything it can to help prevent violent situations from happening, as well as de-escalating them once started.

With that in mind, there are ways that everyday citizens can help our dedicated homeland security teams.

How to Help Prevent a Violent Situation

It’s no secret that mass violence is a growing problem in the United States. Particularly, gun violence. There have been far too many headlines featuring large numbers of people who’ve been killed or injured at the hands of one (or several) deranged individuals. In fact, as CNN reports, of the 30 deadliest shootings since 1949 in the U.S., 16 have taken place since 2006.2

So, what can you do to help prevent yet another one of these deadly situations from occurring?

While there will never be a guaranteed way to stop mass violence in public, local governments and businesses have identified ways you can help. The majority of these prevention methods requires simply speaking up if you see something suspicious or unsettling.

For example, many major cities’ public transportation systems and airports use the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign. With the baseline premise that everyday citizens are the ones best equipped to identify what is out of the ordinary in “everyday situations,” the DHS has established simple guidelines on what to do if you spot suspicious activity.

Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately and report:

  • Who or what you saw
  • When you saw it
  • Where it occurred
  • Why it’s suspicious

Another important factor in helping to prevent violence is understanding where the highest rates of incidence have occurred historically. Since 2000, the top three public spaces with the highest percentage of public violence have been businesses, schools and government properties.4 This statistic is based on the number of shootings that have occurred in each respective space. Combining the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign with the knowledge of where public violence has the highest percent chance of occurring helps set you up to stay safe in future attacks by simply staying aware of what’s going on around you.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”4 If all citizens keep pursuing greater wisdom and knowledge on how we can help end these horrible acts, we’ll be able to move toward a more peaceful community together.

How to Help in a Violent Situation

In the unfortunate event you find yourself a bystander in a public act of violence, it’s important to know there are ways you can help. After the act of violence has ended, it’s essential that citizens do what they can to try and control the situation until the authorities and medics arrive on the scene.

Among the most important roles a bystander can undertake is that of temporary caregiver to those who’ve been injured. As you are about to find out, knowing what to do could drastically increase the survival rate of those hurt.

Launched in the fall of 2015, “Stop the Bleed” (STB) is a program aimed to educate citizens on how to treat injured people in the response to a violent event. The program, which is broken down into three accessible steps, gives people in the community the tools needed to help our national and local security response teams through the treatment of wounds where severe bleeding could occur.6

To help a person suffering from severe bleeding, the DHS has outlined the appropriate steps:7

Stop the Bleed - tourniquet instructions

The information provided through the STB campaign, if implemented by the public on a large scale, has the ability to save countless lives in the future. To understand the severity of the problem blood hemorrhaging poses to victims in violent crises, consider these statistics:

  • 80% of mass casualty patients are delivered to medical facilities by non-ambulances8
  • 35% of pre-hospital deaths are a result of hemorrhaging9

While no one ever wants to witness an act of public violence, it’s important to have the knowledge of how to help those injured. DHS programs like Stop the Bleed are doing just that. They are empowering citizens to help save other citizens in great times of need.

Stay Alert

The Department of Homeland Security makes every effort to stay completely on top of potential security threats to our community. However, the reality is that they can’t do it alone. In a world where technology moves extremely fast and the “norm” has become a moving target, it takes the eyes and ears of every citizen to keep us safe from harm.

And, if you’d like to take your efforts to the next level, consider earning an Online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security from the George Washington University. To find out more, contact an Admissions Advisor at 202-558-0060 or visit us online.

This article is sponsored by the George Washington University.

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