1870 Mag

Run, Hide, Fight

How these three words entered the lexicon of an entire student body

Run, hide…what? There is no stranger feeling than receiving a text from a major university urging you to fend for your life. The ambiguity of this statement has left a lot of questions from the student body. In a time where inexplicable violence is seemingly on the rise, these three words have become the “stop, drop, and roll” of our generation. But from what origins did the phrase come?

Lamentably for Ohio State and Columbus, Ohio, one of the most consequential events of the past year, the violent attack of November 28 that left 13 people injured, and the perpetrator dead, will forever serve as a grim touchstone for 2016. For many among us, this past year will be remembered as the year that the nihilistic violence that has tainted the flavor of our modern world came home to roost on High Street.

Bringing with it all the sad trappings of the phenomenon—grief, woe, disbelief, and swirling whirlwind of media reports and official statements. In all the buzzing, a simple phrase kept being repeated—a phrase that may just serve as a mantra for our times: “Run. Hide. Fight.”

“Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College,” read the mass text sent out by OSU’s Emergency Message System at 9:56 AM that morning, the first piece of university’s official response to the terrible circumstances unfolding on campus that day. Reminiscent of other three word PSA slogans like, “stop, drop, and roll,” or, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” “run, hide, fight,” has been a term kicked around since back in 2008.

In reaction to the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai India that left over 160 people dead, the City of Houston Texas put to work approximately $3.6 million of federal grant money from the Department of Homeland Security to begin developing a methodology for training first responders for active shooter type attacks. The research resulted in a new type of strategy, including the now defining slogan of “run, hide, fight.” The new technique was packaged and presented along with a short film, depicting what could be coldly referred to as a “generic mass active shooter scenario.”

Days after the project had finished, and materials spreading the “run, hide, fight” message were beginning to be to disseminated, the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting transpired, and the national consciousness was once again captured by scenes of seemingly unexplainable, horrifying violence. In this period, “run, hide, fight” became inextricably attached to the modern consciousness. The lessons developed by the City of Houston and the Department of Homeland Security have been repeated and taught in schools and businesses nationwide. The official video on the Ready Houston YouTube channel has eclipsed over 5 million views, and has been mimicked and recreated countless times by innumerable institutions. OSU, like many other colleges and universities, had even produced their own “run, hide, fight” safety video (as well as posters and pamphlets) in 2015, viewable on the OSU Administration & Planning Youtube channel. The video is by far the channel’s “most popular,” with over 420,000 views—the second most viewed video clocks in around 4,000 views.

The tweet from OSU’s Emergency Message System was repeated in nearly every national news story covering the attack, and its harsh message of desperation in the face of unpredictable violence has seemed to have left a bad taste in the mouth of some observers, and the teaching of the “run, hide, fight” gospel has proven occasionally controversial. But regardless of whether or not you feel it suitable given the nature of these violent attacks that have come to define our era, it is surely a phrase none of us is likely to forget anytime soon.

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