Surviving a Sniper
October 17, 2002 4:02 AM   Subscribe

Surviving a Sniper A great article about saving one of the D.C. sniper victims: The doors to the Bowie Health Center had just been unlocked, and Tom Lyons was catching up on paperwork before the usual parade of cut fingers, sore throats and headaches began. [...] He was savoring one last cup of coffee when he heard someone shout for him in the hallway. We've got a gunshot wound!
posted by tommyspoon (26 comments total)
Or you can walk briskly in a zigzagpattern.

Right now on Drudge, he has found the greatest title that he could ever put up. "ZIGZAG!"
posted by RobbieFal at 5:17 AM on October 17, 2002

Would zigzagging help? That FBI lady was pinged while whe was loading stuff in the family car in front of her husband. Two more were also shot while in shopping center parking lots. Two of the others while they were filling the gas tank, one more vacuuming her van, and one guy riding on a lawnmower. He(They) got them while they were doing relatively stationary activites.
posted by blogRot at 5:53 AM on October 17, 2002

always use your decoy.
posted by quonsar at 5:56 AM on October 17, 2002

You have to bob and weave ! Everybody knows that. Move erratically, duck in behind cars, and don't wear bright colors.
posted by a3matrix at 6:08 AM on October 17, 2002

Serpentine Shelly. Serpentine!
posted by airgirl at 6:13 AM on October 17, 2002

thanks for poking fun at a really serious subject for those of us that live in the area. Who is to say that those who were shot in the parking lot weren't walking to their car? Yes, when you're putting something into your car you very vulnerable. But if you make erratic movements every three seconds then you're not a good target. As for pumping gas, many are getting in their cars. Unfortunately, we here are not joking about this kind of stuff even though it sounds ridiculous. It's very real for us. Consider yourself lucky if you live in an area that doesn't take running errands for granted, but here we're afraid to do just those mundane things. So please can you take it easy on the sarcasm?
posted by evening at 6:48 AM on October 17, 2002

My apologies, evening. My co-worker and friend has family down there and we've been talking about this constantly. Hell, I feel paranoid about it and I'm not even down there! I didn't mean any offense.
posted by airgirl at 7:07 AM on October 17, 2002

well, at least those with tourette's should be safe.
posted by jcterminal at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2002

As equally as I am enraged that someone would do something like this I am filled with love and admiration for the people who selflessly came to this child's aid. I think the best society can hope to do for itself is to increase the ratio of good to bad seeds.

Godspeed in finding this maniac.
posted by botono9 at 7:21 AM on October 17, 2002

does anybody know how many drive-by killings in the DC ghetto have gone unreported since the suburban sniper hit number one on the billboard charts?
posted by quonsar at 7:39 AM on October 17, 2002

Speaking as another Metro DC resident, you've got about a 1 in 7.6 million chance of being the next victim on any given day.

Worrying about this is pointless and foolish, despite what the media tells you.
posted by Irontom at 8:42 AM on October 17, 2002

are you kidding quonsar? hardly ANY drive-by killings in SE get reported. it's expected there (for those that don't know, whenever you hear about DC's homicide rates, they mostly come from SE & NE portion of DC. for more go here, click on district, then crime statistics).

Also, only one shooting was in DC and it was close to the MD border. You'd be REALLY stupid to do something like this downtown as you wouldn't be able to get anywhere! (If you are a tourist -- don't rent a car!)

And, true, Irontom, I agree with you. But sometimes it's hard not to. And for those that are worriers it makes them feel better to try and do something.
posted by evening at 8:53 AM on October 17, 2002

I think the reason people are joking about this, evening, is that from any remotely reasonable perspective the advice to dodge and weave is ridiculous. Absolutely ludicrous.

Assuming you're willing to put yourself into a constant, spastic state of motion, and assuming then that the sniper is out with his gun and considering you as a target, all you've done is guarantee that someone else in the vicinity will get shot. Not very charitable.

Unless, to take the absurd scenario farther, everybody in the are consistently moves erratically. In which case, this sniper has had a tremendously successful effect on the population -- killed a few people, completely fucked up how many hundreds of thousands in the area? (And that's all assuming he isn't willing to take potshots at people who are running around like maniacs.)

This advice is stupid. I understand that being in the area makes the threat seem very real, and I don't begrudge a little paranoia under the circumstances, but let's be even remotely rational about this. Why not buy a kevlar vest and a helmet?
posted by cortex at 9:12 AM on October 17, 2002

quonsar: although snarky, the Post did reflect on the fact that random shootings aren't unusual in some parts of the city.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:50 AM on October 17, 2002

I understand, cortex, that it is ridiculous to actually consider walking in a zigzag pattern. I agree that it's too much. But I guess I'm just sensitive after reading about Monday's shooting and imagining my husband being shot with me right there. So when I see joking it's hard for me to laugh.

I actually was more irritated by the pumping gas decoy. I know it's supposed to be funny, but I just don't think it is. Maybe because I'm a suburban DC resident. Or maybe my sense of humor is asleep today.

Didn't mean to bother anyone, just felt things weren't respectful enough for what the post was supposed to be about.
posted by evening at 10:52 AM on October 17, 2002

"I am filled with love and admiration for the people who selflessly came to this child's aid."

Are you serious? Who selflessly came to this kid's rescue? His aunt? What was she supposed to do, leave him lying on the ground bleeding to death? Had she done that I have no doubt that she'd be sitting at the kiddie table this Thanksgiving?

Were the doctors selfless when they performed their jobs as trauma care specialists and surgeons?

How about the emergency room nurses? Were they selfless when they decided to pitch in and save this kid's life instead of doing a crossword puzzle?

And, lets not forget the law enforcement officers who actually get paid to protect and serve the public. Did they selflessly get to use their helicopter to transfer this kid to the appropriate medical facility.

The point is that none of the professionals, nor relatives went beyond what is expected of them in their professional and personal roles. They just did their jobs.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:02 AM on October 17, 2002

Were the doctors selfless when they performed their jobs as trauma care specialists and surgeons?

How about the emergency room nurses?
And, lets not forget the law enforcement officers who actually get paid to protect and serve the public... They just did their jobs.

Actually, they're pretty fucking selfless to have those jobs in the first place, Juicylicious. Real life heroes.
posted by callmejay at 11:09 AM on October 17, 2002

Oh puhleeeze. If they were selfless heroes their asses would be saving lives in Bangladesh instead of raking in big bucks in the States.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:13 AM on October 17, 2002

In emergency medicine, the first hour after a devastating injury is called "the golden hour," when every minute counts in the battle to save a life.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2002

Thank God cool heads prevailed.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2002

are you kidding quonsar? hardly ANY drive-by killings in SE get reported. it's expected there

I think that was his point. You might be able to replace "it's expected there" with "nobody cares" though.

(see: Missing women in Vancouver's East Side.)
posted by The God Complex at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2002

I order you to keep making fun of it.

I was much more stressed by getting my first mortgage last week than the sniper.

Just to satisfy the no-humor crowd, I'll go out on a limb and say that the shooter is also a doodiehead.
posted by NortonDC at 3:09 PM on October 17, 2002

The selfless thing would be for people all around the area to spill out into the streets, thereby decreasing any one individual's chance of being sniped.
posted by mert at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2002

The other interesting thing is the tendency of the media to glorify the people who respond to a disaster... for instance, how the firefighter has become a symbol of 9-11. Statistically speaking, far more financial analysts than rescue workers perished in the WTC disaster, but there are no bronze stockbrokers being erected in their memory.

I think this article glorifying the emergency physicians is a symptom of this tendency to print something uplifting. Do journalists and newspaper editors see their role as regulators of the public sense of well-being? Are they just trying to reassure themselves?
posted by mert at 4:30 PM on October 17, 2002

Happily, apparently some people actually read the link and not just the bolded text. This wasn't about avoiding getting shot at all. Yeah, I mean you, the peanut gallery.

I don't think we need to glorify emergency responders, but I think we certainly should appreciate them, especially when they do take risks. As for stories like this, journalists are human -- they hate writing bad news as much as we hate reading it. In this case, it wasn't so much heroics that did the deed -- though medevac chopper piloting is a riskier business than most -- as it was a confluence of well-financed institutions with facilities, tools, equipment, and personnel to make sure that the opportunities of the Golden Hour were maximized.

This boy was very lucky his aunt -- or any nurse -- was immediately present, and had the coolness of mind to get him to the health center instead of the panicked response most parents might have. (I'm actually concerned that some amateurs might take this as an example and think they're better off driving an accident victim somewhere. Most of the time, that would be a bad idea.) Then he was lucky that a helicopter was only a minute or two away. And he was lucky that we've learned so much about trauma treatment and built up all these interlocking resources. Luck, as they say, favors the prepared.

He was also lucky in one other way -- the sniper chose a torso shot, and missed his major organs.
posted by dhartung at 4:49 PM on October 17, 2002

I find that living across the pond in the UK is a pretty good avoidance measure.

Seriously though... I remember that during my teenage years a former soldier went to ground after taking a few pot shots. I was on holiday in the area with my family at the time. It was truly grim. He shot himself in the end. And then there was Hungerford.

Anyone living and working in the shadow of this sniper has my sympathy.
posted by ifenn at 4:54 PM on October 17, 2002

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