The "ready round" — What to say to a survivor


Part of an officer’s stress inoculation process is to make up their mind — ahead of time — what they will do when a critical incident occurs. Whether that’s engaging an active shooter, as Sgt. Mark Todd and Sgt. Kimberly Munley (both civilian officers with the Department of Army), did when they stopped the murderous rampage of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, or something entirely different, the key is to be prepared for the unexpected.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, the author of On Killing  and On Combat, writes in Chapter Six of On Combat  that “the right response to a survivor is to say simply, ‘I’m so glad you’re okay.’ That the person survived the ordeal and is okay is all that matters.”

Grossman says further that an officer involved in a shooting doesn’t need to hear “good shooting” or “the bastard had it coming” or “we’ll get you a good lawyer.” Instead, says Grossman, the message should be: “I give a damn about you, and I’m glad you’re okay.”

Calling this the “ready round,” Col. Grossman says this is the one that’s “in the chamber ready to go when you do not know what to say or do. You simply let the person know that you care about him and are glad he is okay.”

PoliceOne thanks Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and the men and women of Killology Research Group for giving us permission to reprint this excerpt of Grossman’s excellent book.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, responsible for providing police training content and expert analysis on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips. Doug is also responsible for planning and recording the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, as well as being the on-air host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug also works closely with the PoliceOne Academy to develop training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Doug regularly represents PoliceOne as a public speaker in a variety of forums and is available for media interviews — he has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television news programs, and has been quoted in a host of print publications. 

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Contact Doug Wyllie

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