How To Create a Link-Up Plan for Your Family and Loved Ones - ITS Tactical
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How To Create a Link-Up Plan for Your Family and Loved Ones

By Jeff Gonzales


The chances of being involved in a real active-shooting event are still pretty low, despite all the media attention we’ve seen lately. That being said, have you given any thought to how you and your family would handle the situation? How would you react and what procedures should you have in place to ensure everyone’s safety?

First off, the sky is not falling. Just because I’m taking the time to discuss this topic doesn’t mean there’s an escalation of these events. This all came about during a discussion during a recent break in a class I was running. One of the students asked a candid question about what should they do and my response was probably not what they wanted to hear. I tried to present it in bite size pieces and it went something along the lines of this:

Link-Up Planning

Planning is probably the most important action you can take towards lowering your stress level and increasing your survivability. Even if you don’t suddenly find yourself being shot at, having a plan to link back up with your loved ones is very important. My family has had to do this on more than one occasion to corral children. First and foremost, keep it simple; “meet at this location, at this time.

A major mistake is what to do if you’re at the predetermined location, or rally point, but no one else has arrived. Now what? You need to have a condition, something like “wait five minutes, then move to this location.” There are actually a lot of reasons why someone might not have been able to make it to the rally point, such as having to cross a major danger area, like the attack site, that didn’t exist beforehand.

If members of your group, or even you yourself, don’t make it to the rally point by the given time, the next step is to fall back to a secondary rally point. The objective with each successive bounding action to the next rally point, is to ensure you’re moving closer to your escape with each movement. The predetermined time limits give you and the rest of your group the opportunity to link up during a fluid and chaotic situation. It doesn’t hurt to even rehearse this plan at a local mall or school event, just make sure everyone knows it’s a drill.

Returning Accurate Fire

The next course of action in a situation like I’ve described, would be to determine if you’re the subject of the active shooting, in the crossfire, or just in the general area. If you are the subject, which isn’t always as easy as you might think it is to determine, it would then seem pretty obvious what you need to do. Return accurate fire to neutralize the threat and then initiate your link-up plan to get a full headcount of your family and loved ones. Once that’s completed, medical aid would be the next thing that comes to mind, but is it safe to do so? Err on the side of caution by at least getting your family to permanent safety, which will more than likely require getting them off site. This is similar to the line you might have heard before, “Get Off The X.”

If you’re in the crossfire your first move should be looking for cover, or at the least concealment, trying to obscure your presence. Remember, your primary objective is the safety of your family. If they’re not in imminent danger, your first action should be to consider getting them off the attack site. That can be problematic if you’re in the crossfire, so use the best judgment based on the situation at hand. Sometimes neutralizing the threat, even if you’re not the target, isn’t a bad idea. It’s a good way to ensure your family gets to safety.

If you’re in the general area of an attack and moving towards safety, try to keep something between you and the danger. Try not to mistakenly move into the crossfire and when you do move, consider moving in smaller chunks, from one piece of cover to the next. Almost in a bounding overwatch, or leapfrog manner.

You can’t afford to bury your head in the sand, or look to the government to protect you and your family. They’ll always be in a reactionary mode. You’ll need to become self-sufficient and take action yourself; the first action should be coming up with a decent link-up plan.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Jeff Gonzales was a decorated and respected US Navy SEAL, serving as an operator and trainer who participated in numerous combat operations throughout the world. He now uses his modern warfare expertise as President of Trident Concepts, LLC., a battle proven company specializing  in weapons, tactics and techniques to meet the evolving threat. Bringing the same high-intensity mindset, operational success and lessons learned from NSW to their training programs, TRICON has been recognized as an industry leader by various federal, state and local units. Organizations interested in training with TRICON can call 928-925-7038 or visit for more information.

Title photo © Steven Damron

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