Mall Safety Tip: Staying Safe in Large Crowds

Getting lost in the crowd is easy – not knowing how to manage your safety in large violent crowds can get you killed.

Being able to protect yourself and your family starts with the ability to increase your own level of awareness, educate yourself on what to look for, and understand how to develop prevention strategies for dealing with large crowds in malls.

Being able to protect yourself does not start with the ability to throw a punch or use a weapon. In fact, in many cases, if that is all the training you have had, you have not really been trained to defend yourself.

Incidents of violence in our malls are growing  and can overtake your quickly so you have to be ready to respond to these potentially life-threatening situations.

Our survival motto for this is “Escape first, then Barricade and, as your last resort, Defend you and your family.”

These are 3 fast tips to surviving mall violence and increase your ability to identify danger and enhance your situational awareness.

  1. Escape planning:   means you know where they are, and how to get there and where to go when you are there
  • Have a discussion with your family on the non-verbal and verbal cues for quickly returning together
  • Before you get out of your car select a parking space you can see the entrance of the store
  • Be mindful of the cover positions as to avoid running in an open uncovered area to your car (sometime the best route is the most direct route
  • This will help you in exiting the area quicker but help with family accountability when selecting a meeting place if things go bad inside the stores
  • Select your escape routes when you enter the mall, stores, and restaurants even in the open food court areas. Try to never put yourself into a place without an escape route
  • Position yourself in the areas and stores you are in while shopping to see others entering and leaving your area
  • If you hear gun shots when moving in the crowd quickly move towards cover. Many times when gun fire is present the people running blindly and in the open are shot.
  • If you are standing in front of a large crowd quickly approaching – immediately move to the side of the crowd place your shoulder against a wall with your other hand up and extend it from your body as watch carefully on the best direction to start moving to safety
  • Pay close attention to the direction of the crowd. Many times when trapped inside a crowd people tend to move with the crowd and this is dangerous as the only one knowing where the crowd is moving is the people in the front and MANY times these people were triggered by panic and are trying to get away from the people behind them
  • If you can GET OUT – DO IT
  • If you cannot get out find a safe place to go
  1. Barricade strategies:
  • Barricading options start with:
    1. Never select a place to hide in unless you can escape from it
    2. Pick a place you can see and hear danger approaching.
    3. Select a place where you can defend yourself.
  • Barricade considerations:
    • There is a difference between cluttering and blocking the doorway and barricading an entrance. Also does the door open inwards or outwards
      • Just piling items and objects in front of a door is not necessarily providing you with a barricade
      • Selecting large, solid objects that require strength, time and effort to penetrate the door is barricading the door and stopping bullets like desks, chair, filing cabinets
      • Carrying 12 feet of 550 parachute cord can assist in medical aid and help with door opening outwards, a small 2 oz. tube of superglue and a few coins in the doorway can assist in securing the door itself
      • Identify what are your positioning of cover.  If you hear the sound of a gun, the first thing you should do is immediate get behind cover this is a solid object that would protect you from any bullets coming in your direction – then carefully start to look around for the direction and area of the sound.
  1. Defense Tactics for large crowds: 
  • Many times when dealing with large crowds the best defense is a SAFE DEFENSE – this means to get to a location until the crowd passes
  • If you were unable to get out of the area and have to stay in place until help arrives quickly conduct a visual survey of the immediate area for weapons of availability
  • These are items in your immediate area you can use to defend yourself.  Remember when selecting a weapon for defense take into consideration what distance it will give you from the threat; what effort you need to put into using it and what exactly are you trying to accomplish.
  • Pick out your “Engagement locations”, rarely is allowing the crowd to enter the room a better option then defending them at the doorway. Plus when you select your engagement location you have the advantage!

Over all safety requires you to remain alert, be decisive and have a pre-planned response and the above strategy of Escape, Barricade and Defense will assist you in doing that.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year


Saying or doing the unexpected to catch a person “off guard” during verbal conflict

This is Gary Klugiewicz.
Jeff Mehring, a conflict management consultant and trainer, has shared a number of his concepts with us in our Vistelar posting in the past.  This time he focused on how to put the brakes on an escalating verbal conflict situation by interrupting the person’s thought processes with unexpected verbalization and body language.  Check it out.   I think you will find it very interesting.  We have already incorporated it into our distraction redirection training.
Could you read his post, try it in your work environment, and get back to us with your feedback in our comment section?
We would love to hear from you.

The Power of “Huh” and “Hmm”


Often, in a conflict management situation, particularly when someone is attempting to redirect or persuade another through verbalization, words don’t easily come to mind.  There is a lot to take in while trying to formulate just the right thing to say, so the verbal redirection or persuasive argument has its desired effect.  It’s at times such as this that saying and doing the unexpected, thus catching the other person off-guard, can be very helpful.

Saying and doing the unexpected has several advantages.  First, it causes the other person to pause and make sure that what was heard is accurate.  The pause, even if for a second, breaks tension and causes an individual to reconsider what is taking place.  Second, saying or doing the unexpected creates doubt in the mind of another concerning what is normal, in essence instantly establishing a new norm which causes hesitation and the need to reorient, which allows you to stay one step ahead and establish a position of advantage or control.  Third, when the pause or hesitation takes place, it provides you with an assessment opportunity to determine if the other person is reasonable or not.  Remember, you cannot reason individuals out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.  If the other person doesn’t respond in a reasonably predictable fashion, pausing or hesitating, you will need to switch gears and move to another tactic.

All this being said, what are some unexpected things we can say or do?  One is understanding the power in two small and seldom used words in the beginning stages of a conflict.  Those words are “huh” and “hmm”.  When coupled with a quizzical tone of voice and a facial expression, which in and of itself conveys interest, there is great potential to catch the other person off-guard and move the confrontation in a positive direction.  Saying “huh” or “hmm” in a confrontation is unexpected, and since words and actions must match, a quizzical facial expression should be employed and will be equally unexpected.  When individuals become aggressive, they expect an equal or greater response or reaction; the unexpected is a preplanned and practiced response instead of a “tit for tat” reaction.  In addition to the “huh” or “hmm”, use follow-up words which match what you are trying to convey.  For example, “Huh, that’s interesting, tell me more” or “Hmm, I didn’t know that, let me see how I can help”.  “Huh” and “hmm” should be seen as a means of opening gateways to further communication.

Unfortunately, all too often our verbalizations close doors, for instance statements such as, “I understand”, when the other person is convinced you don’t understand, or “You must feel frustrated”, which is the same as saying “I understand”, since you have assumed how the other person feels instead of asking “Are you feeling frustrated?”  There are also common phrases such as “calm down” or “settle down” which close us off from others, but are used on a regular basis.  All of these verbalizations are expected by others, learn to say or do the unexpected.  Start with a quizzical “huh” and “hmm” and watch the doors of opportunity to resolve a situation through redirection and persuasion fly open.  There is power in those words.


Rockville Centre, NY PD 2016 VDI Instructor Class introduces new VDI Material

Hello there.

Gary Klugiewicz here.

Vistelar introduced a number of significant changes to our courseware at the recent Beyond Conflict Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  At last week’s Rockville Centre, NY Police Department Verbal Defense & Influence Instructor Class, Dave Young and I first presented this material.  We introduced the new manuals, workbooks, and PowerPoints.   The material was very well received.

Watch the video below that explains how we now review incidents using the Point-of-Impact 6 C’s of Conflict Management.  This new incident review concept included Context, Contact, Conflict, Crisis, Combat, and Closure to describe how conflict can be prevented and/or managed.  This video also describes how the revised Communication under Pressure Card helps contact professional to manage these conflicts.   Please comment below on your thoughts on my explanation of these changes.

Let’s keep everyone safe.

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“The class is an absolute reminder in professionalism.”

Tim Wires, Stark County, OH

Verbal Defense and Influence Instructor

Juvenile Probation Officer

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It can be given to som many applications in life. It’s so well-rounded and put together.

Grandview, MO 2016 School Active-shooter Training I Video – Fire Drills, not Fire Talks

Active shooter attacks can be over as fast as they start. Learning how to make tactical decisions under stress and be calm under chaos is something you train for not just read about.

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It was nice to receive confirmation from the teachers around the state of Missouri on how this training prepared them for real world attacks as compared to the other training they attended and watched on PowerPoints and the videos they reviewed.

Understanding how to move in small groups under fire, respond correctly with emergency treatment for gun shot wounds, how to break windows and exit buildings, negotiate hallways and control yourself and your students when lives are on the line.

Training is much more effective when you conduct fire drills rather than fire talks.

Dave Young completes comprehensive active-shooter training for Grandview, MO schools

I just completed our active-shooter training for teachers and staff members of the high school, middle school, and elementary school in Grandview, Missouri.

All 80 plus teachers and staff complete our online training program and then attended a 3 1/2 hour block of hands-on activities, drills and exercises to educate, inspire and better prepare them for managing the safety of students during an active shooter attack.

We taught them how to manage the 6 C’s of conflict management in the classroom to how not only to improve their safety but enhance communication between teachers, staff, students, and their families.

Everyone did a great job and are now better prepared to respond to an active-shooter event.

Learn how to Hardwire Happiness

Hi There,

Gary Klugiewicz here with another Radio Health Journal audiotape that provides great suggestions for staying positive in what is oftentimes a very negative focused world.

This message shows us how to overcome our focus on negative events by learning how to hardwire happiness.

16-22 Segment 2: Hardwiring Happiness

In Verbal Defense & Influence we spend a great deal of time in our peace stories that stress positive outcomes.

We need to learn how to take the positive events in our life and focus on them.

Please let us know what you think about his lesson in the comment section below.


Quotes 9: Words of Coach Bob Lindsey

Good morning.

This is Gary Klugiewicz.

This week Coach Lindsey’s quote discussed the difference between looking and seeing.


What is the difference between taking a quick photo of the person and situation versus taking a video of the person and situation. The long term “seeing” of the person and situation allow you to examine the person’s words, tone, and other non-verbals, as well as, the context of situation in greater detail allowing you to “see” more fully what is actually going on. Merely taking a quick photo of the person and situation doesn’t allow you to do accomplish this level of understanding. As we like to say, proper response begins with remaining alert and to remain alert, you need to “pay attention.”

Watch Coach Lindsey’s video on this topic and comment below.

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Fourth of July 2016 – New Challenges / Same Commitment

Greetings to my Fellow Americans on the Fourth of July 2016,

This is Gary Klugiewicz.

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Its usually warm in Wisconsin by this time. The weather coupled with a three day weekend that can be spent with family and friends makes for a great getaway from the stressors and conflict of the real world.

It is also a great time to remember who we are, how we got here, and what we need to prevail in an increasingly hostile world.

We are Americans. I remember a quote from a 1960’s TV Show starring E.G Marshall called the Defenders. You can google it for more information but it started with a quote that I will always remember: “Democracy is a very bad form of government but all the rest are so much worse.” Now, I know that the United States has a representative form of government but the quote still holds true. Our system of government is truly inefficient, problem filled, and, at times, extremely frustrating for all parties involved. The United States is still the greatest country in the world as can be seen by all the millions of people who are trying to get in.

I put the “America: The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” Quote on the Flag in the featured image for a reason. We are the Home of the Free but to remain the free, we will need to be the Home of the Brave. It is going to take courage to get through these challenging and changing times. Let’s commit ourselves as a nation to get this job done.

One final point, our Verbal Defense & Influences Classes begin with this attempt at establishing a positive social contract. We ask instructors and class attendees to agree to this foundational principle. “Do we agree to treat each other with dignity and show each other respect – even though we may disagree?” We then all confirm our agreement by giving the traditional “thumbs up” hand gesture. Perhaps we should start more of our political discussions, workplace interactions, and family talks with this pre-meeting expectation contracting. Disrespect doesn’t lead to collaboration, cooperation, or even long term compliance.

What do you think? Can I get a thumbs up as means to enhance our country rather than disrupting it?

How to safely enter a homeless person’s living room.


This is Gary Klugiewicz.

Joel Lashley and I just finished an Interventions for Patients with Challenging Behaviors Instructor Class at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

It was another great class attended by an outstanding group of instructors from healthcare, social services, private security, and law enforcement.

Since so many of these contact professionals now have to make house calls, interact with homeless persons on the street, and meet them where they live, sleep, and reside, how to approach them safely becomes extremely important for their and our safety.

Pablo Velazquez is the vice president of the Milwaukee based Genesis Group. He is an experienced security specialist and supervises training for his organization. I was amazed how much we were able to learned from Pablo in how to keep yourself safe while approaching a homeless person in what that person thinks of as his/her living room. It may be a cardboard box, street corner, or stairway to you but it their “home” to them. Pablo’s explanation shows both empathy and prospective taking. Looking at the situation at hand from the other person’s eyes is a valuable tool in preventing and, if necessary, managing conflict. This is one of the great values of coming to an “open” Vistelar Instructor Training program – You get to interact and learn from a wide range of multi-disciplinary contact professionals.

Watch the video and comment below.

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P.S. I especially liked his knocking on the door of the homeless person’s living room, getting their attention, and asking permission to enter. This is important safety information. Remember that may of these homeless person experience mental health conditions, have drug & alcohol issues, have personal safety concerns, and just may be a heavy sleeper. Do you really want to startle any person that you are approaching. Take you time and do it right.

Thank you Pablo for sharing this important tactical tip.