In this week’s episode of “Time to Head North,” we sat down with veteran, law enforcement officer, medic and author Sal Rossano to discuss personal safety. Sal talked about preparedness in a world where violence can unexpectedly strike at any moment.

Sal has seen about every crisis scenario, given his nearly ten years as the senior medic for a Special Forces Detachment. Not to mention, his practice of medicine around the world, including teaching foreign and US military forces and law enforcement.

Not just in crisis, but in everyday settings, Sal emphasizes the importance of being prepared for just about anything, and that includes teaching and talking through scenarios with children. That goes for any age, he says you just have to put it in their language. With children, it’s all about being able to recognize scenarios. Most probably don’t know what gunfire sounds like, so you use firecrackers as the sound example.

Here’s what Sal tells his own kids about safety when it comes to an active shooter scenario. “You know how common is it for kids to throw firecrackers in the school? In 18+ years of going to school, that never happened in my lifetime. What happens if kids hear the sound that they’re not used to? Oh, somebody’s lighting firecrackers let me go check it out, the next thing they know is they’re looking down the barrel of a gun.” Sal says you hear that kind of stuff in the school or a shopping mall, it is not normal. If that sound presents, go away from it, do not investigate it. There is a reason for the phrase curiosity killed the cat. Sal tells his kids do not investigate, leave immediately.

If leaving is not possible, the same safety advice goes for everyone. Barricade yourself in a locked area and hide well. If you have to fight, fight, but remember, the average person is most likely not psychologically ready for this. “You’re asking someone to fight back that’s never been in a situation to fight back against somebody. When their stress level is so high and they’ve never experienced that before, they’re going to go black. They’re not gonna be able to think clearly.”

This is again, why it’s important to think through or talk out scenarios in advance. That includes thinking about things like what normal things are in a room that could be used as a weapon. Sal says make sure you also teach your kids that in moments of chaos or when your life is at stake, rules don’t apply. That means if you need to throw a chair through a window to get out, that’s okay. Be sure, especially when dealing with children, they know that in moments like an active shooter scenario, they can break the normal rules. Bottom line: You’re not instilling fear, you are teaching preparedness, which could save your life or your child’s.

One of the biggest issues is, it’s hard to think about gnarly situations and possible worst-case scenarios. However, conversations have to happen. “They don’t need to know how to handle every situation, but they need to know how to recognize it and stay away from it.” Sal adds recognition as simple as noticing someone tugging at their waistband. That could be a signal that person is carrying a weapon. You notice that and then understand, you stay away from that person.

Sal shares his decades of knowledge in his book, The Ultimate Travel Safety Program. It takes the same principles discussed in this podcast, but with more elaboration and specific to travel. Click here for more information.

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