As University of Idaho students head back to campus after four of their classmates were brutally murdered in November, the question of security and safety remains more prevalent than ever.
Suspect Bryan Kohberger was arrested before New Years, but the university continued with its plan to increase security around campus, NBC-Affiliate KHQ reported. It also worked with Moscow Police Department, Idaho State Police and Latah County Sheriff’s Office to enlist patrols around off-campus areas, as students Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20 were fatally stabbed in an off-campus home.
The school will also offer self-defense classes, according to reports.
Law&Crime Sidebar host Angenette Levy spoke with self-defense expert Debbie Gardner about four key ways students can protect themselves.
Take control of your body
“When you’re in crisis, your body on the inside changes,” Gardner, a former deputy sheriff and co-founder of the Survive Institute, said in an extended interview with Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast.
Air drops into your stomach as if you’ve been “sucker-punched.” Your heart is pounding. Your hands, legs and brain are suddenly not receiving their normal flow of blood and oxygen.
“So we’ve got to get blood and oxygen flowing properly in the exact way we do,” Gardner explained. “That is not just deep belly breathing. And I want to warn you, the first recovery breath is a killer. You’ve got to fight for it. Fighting for that breath of air is critical.”
“Whoever is winning is breathing,” she added.
If a sound escapes you, “go ahead. Cry out like Serena Williams when she hits a tennis ball,” Gardner continued.
That, and pumping your hands or gripping an object like a phone, will jumpstart the body, help it circulate back through your system to your head, legs and feet.
Gardner also suggested visualizing someone you love, someone you would do anything for.
“It’s amazing how you will do the impossible,” she said. “Faster, quicker, better. It’s ridiculous how powerful it is and how when people come out of crisis.”
Go for the throat
“You can find the phrase ‘go for the throat’ in Hallmark cards, but you can’t find it in most crime prevention material. Hilarious,” Gardner said. “Why? Well, because it’s serious. You don’t mess around with it. You don’t practice on humans. You can’t practice what works.”
And your weapon? Your own body.
“You are armed. I got arms. I am armed 24/7,” she said, demonstrating four points on her hands that can be used to hit an attacker’s throat, cutting their air supply as soon as possible.
“The human trachea is cartilage; it’s not bone,” Gardner explained. “It’s very identical in circumference and texture of a toilet paper roll.”
You can practice on an actual empty toilet paper roll as she did, taking her hand to crush it, collapsing it enough to interrupt the oxygen flow.
“That is enough to save your life,” Gardner said. “When you fight for your life – my intent is to injure not K-I-L-L anyone.” This, though, will do “just enough.”
Your phone is a weapon
Many of the people Gardner trains say they’re uncomfortable touching, let alone hitting another person. But, “we’ll hit faster with an object in our hands,” she advised.
Holding up her cellphone, she said: “This is the best weapon in the world.”
You can use it to strike someone in the throat, releasing “the hesitation of touching them skin to skin.”
Buy a more expensive water bottle
A water bottle is “another fabulous weapon” because of its cap, Gardner said.
“When you travel or in higher risk or you’re actively being stalked, invest in a $1, $2 bottle of water versus a ten cent one because the neck is even stronger,” she instructed.
It’s a game-changing new mindset for college students.
“They have a cell phone and a water bottle in their bookcase or in their hands,” Garden said. “They’re armed.”
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