One thing I’ve read over and over in the accounts of mass shooting survivors is that they initially didn’t believe it was happening. When they hear gunshots, instead of believing their ears, people often think that something must’ve fallen or that there was construction work of some kind going on. This state of denial and confusion robs people of valuable time they could have spent running, hiding, or getting ready to fight.

But an even worse thing happens to many people: they don’t notice the danger at all, or notice it far too late. Without situational awareness, it’s pretty easy to miss out on any chance to protect yourself from danger at all.

A recent video out of Ukraine shows us examples of both of these. During a dispute over a budget or something in a local village council meeting, a man entered the room, argues with the council, removes grenades from his pockets, and then holds them up while yelling. Then, he pops the fuses and throws the grenades on the floor.

Here’s an uncensored video of what happened. It’s worth watching for training and educational purposes, and doesn’t show any blood or gore, as the room fills with smoke when the first grenade explodes.

According to the AP, the man was a member of the local council and his grenade attack injured at least twenty-six people, six critically. It’s unknown whether this attack had anything to do with the war going on in the country.

The key thing to watch for in the video is the looks on people’s faces. When the man pulls the grenades from his pockets, no one seems to notice. When he starts yelling and holding the grenades up, no one runs from the room or tries to take any action to stop him. Because he hadn’t pulled the pins yet, it’s possible that he could have been stopped with a well-placed shot at that point. Or, if they were still going to go off, people could have at least had more time to get away.

But even if people didn’t notice when he held the grenades up, or thought he was bluffing, they probably should have noticed when the pop as he armed them and threw them in the floor. Surely at that point, a person would at least try to take cover…right?

But as you can see in the video, people just stared, one at the grenade on the floor right in front of him, in disbelief. One man got up, but stayed put. No one ran. Some looked away as if that would somehow help them.

Sadly, that’s normal human nature.

For some people, the danger was never seen because they were too busy arguing over the budget or something. In hindsight, they probably realize being too focused on that to look around the room was a mistake, but when it was happening, it seemed like the most important thing in the world. It’s too easy to let life distract us from what’s actually important.

For many, normalcy bias kicked in. Something as wild and unexpected as a guy pulling out grenades in a meeting room only happens in the movies. So, they think, surely this can’t be real. Carry on as normal.

It takes mental effort to get out of bad habits and react when it’s most important. Plan ahead to believe your eyes and ears, and more importantly, keep them engaged enough to know that there’s something to believe.



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