HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With so many frightening incidents lately it might help to keep in mind a strategy for when you’re in a crowd.

Security experts stress the importance of situational awareness.

Whether there’s an actual or perceived threat, it can be very dangerous to be in the middle of a stampede. That’s why it’s important to have a plan.

Monday night in Harrisburg police said a fight broke out, firecrackers were thrown on the ground and someone shouted “gun” which prompted hundreds to run down Front Street.

“It was very scary. Scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed. Not going to lie,” said Josiah Gray.

In the chaos, people thought there was an active shooter which turned out to be false.

“You’ll have people running they become hysterical and there’s an underlying sense that common sense kind of takes a backseat, because fight or flight kicks in,” said Chief Edward Blake, community policing specialist with Tri State Enforcement Regional Authority.

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Tri State Enforcement Regional Authority is a special police company providing security and defensive services.

“Situational Awareness is definitely something everybody should be practicing,” Blake said.

Blake says by being aware of your surroundings, you might recognize a situation “Where it’s just beginning to unfold, where you can say, ‘Hey, I recognize that this is about or has the potential to turn into a situation. I want to go ahead and remove myself now.'”

Before any big event, he says have a plan.

“As you’re moving about, say, some sort of a venue or an event or something of that nature, you’re keeping aware of where your exits might be and paths of egress to get yourself out of that situation,” Blake said.

Of course in the heat of the moment, “It could be teenagers messing around, it could be anything. You just run. That’s the thing you have to do nowadays. You’re not going to really know what’s going on,” Gray said.

Blake says the more you delay getting away from a situation, the more likely you could be injured or killed, but it’s not always smart to run with the crowd.

“Just because a crowd is doing something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do the same thing,” Blake said. “There (are) a lot of instances where following along with what everybody else is doing is not necessarily in your best interest. And can sometimes become more detrimental.”

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