Our Blog: Equipping & Empowering

ProActive Response Group

There are two types of people in a crisis — those who act and those who do not.

At ProActive Response Group, we talk a lot about having survivor’s mindset. It’s an important part of our training because in order to survive a violent encounter, you must first have the will to survive.

In today’s blog article we want to dive a little deeper into this idea of a survivor’s mentality by uncovering the five characteristics that are true of a survivor.

Positive Attitude

Survivors do not allow their situation to determine their mood. They don’t depend on ideal conditions in order to be content, and they’re not thrown into a tailspin every time something doesn’t go their way. Whether the situation is good or bad, a person with a survivor’s mentality chooses to recognize the positive aspects of the situation or else pursue the steps that would result in a positive outcome.

How does this play out in real life? Positive people look for solutions rather than dwelling on the challenges. Take an active shooter situation at your workplace for example. If you realized your building was on lockdown because an armed gunman was inside, would you immediately start texting goodbyes to loved ones assuming there is no way out? Or would you look for an escape route or barricade a door in an effort to ensure a positive outcome?


Survivors are able to adapt to unexpected and undesirable situations. For example, imagine you’re operating heavy machinery, and the equipment malfunctions. You end up slicing your leg open resulting in a severe hemorrhage. The wound requires a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, but you know there isn’t one at the facility, and there’s no way you could reach help with your leg in its current condition. What do you do?

You adapt! Since you don’t have a tourniquet, you decide to use your shirt as one. This makeshift tourniquet buys you enough time until you can call for help and EMS arrives.

Mental Toughness

Being your own first responder is something we say a lot, but don’t be fooled — It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do. Imagine applying your own tourniquet or packing your own wound. In some situations, that’s exactly what it means to be your own first responder, and those are tasks that require a great deal of mental toughness.

Mentally tough people survive because they realize that their bodies are capable of much more than their minds tell them they are. They are masters of their minds rather than letting their minds master them.

There are many ways to build mental toughness. It may be something as simple as saying no to a delicious donut you’re craving or seeing a tedious task through to completion. Seeking discomfort is a great way to develop mental toughness — things like taking a cold shower, going skydiving when you’re afraid of heights, running a marathon, or enduring a strenuous workout. While these kinds of activities may seem unrelated to emergency situations, they all train your mind to respond to challenging situations with strength, resilience, and endurance.

Work Ethic

How many times has someone survived a life-threatening or otherwise dangerous situation, and come out on the other side saying, “Well that was easy!”

Never. Survivors survive because they overcome the odds, and that takes hard work. That work will look different in different scenarios, but the point is, their work ethic enables them to set their mind to something, put their head down when necessary, and get it done.


All of us are motivated by something different. For some of us it’s success or accomplishment. For others, it’s family and relationships. Only those who are motivated by something they consider to be worthwhile will find the motivation they need to survive a difficult circumstance.

Motivation is essential to the survivor’s mindset because all of the previously mentioned characteristics of a survivor are driven by it. Only a motivated person would be able to…

  • choose positivity when circumstances look bleak.
  • adapt to unexpected and undesirable situations.
  • train the mind to be tough and maintain that toughness in the most challenging circumstances.
  • work hard for as long as it takes and using whatever methods necessary.

Get trained in a survivor’s mindset!

The idea of a survivor’s mindset is weaved throughout all of our Active Shooter Training materials. Right now is a great time to take advantage of our Online Active Shooter Training Course. Use the discount code STAYPROACTIVE to save 50%.


5 Characteristics of a Survivor



Chad Ayers

Chad Ayers served as Sheriff’s Deputy for Greenville County in South Carolina for 12 years. He has worked undercover in multiple state and federal investigations and in high-pressure environments, including active shooter events and hostage negotiations. Chad was a member of the SWAT team, where he served as assistant team leader and also assisted in the creation and implementation of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office active shooter response program. Chad starred in season one of A&E TV’s Emmy-winning documentary LIVEPD and is a frequent guest commentator for FOX News, Law & Crime Network, and On Patrol Live.


Andy Sexton

Andy Sexton spent 12 years with the Greenville County Sheriff’s office in South Carolina, where he held the rank of Uniform Patrol Sergeant. His experience includes serving as an assistant SWAT team leader, involvement in high-risk incidents, including hostage rescues and the protection of dignitaries, working in criminal investigations (including armed robbery and homicide), and serving on the training committee for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.

Skip to content