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From his time working as a police officer in south central Los Angeles, Troy Zeeman has seen more than his share of carnage, but the lessons he’s learned on the job just may have saved his life when he found himself in the middle of a mass shooting. In this final episode of a series with Troy and his wife Shannon, they give their top tips to ensure safety in any situation.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like Brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more go to brainmd.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We are having a lot of fun with our friends Troy and Sharon Zeeman.
Tana Amen: Yeah, as much as you can talking about this.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And if you want to know more about their work for your family, for your business, for your school, for your church, you can go to S-C-Z, sczactiveshooter.com. And you can learn all about them and their work and hire them for your organization. You can just see how articulate and wonderful human beings they are.
And as I'm listening to this and you're like, and I didn't really expect to see trauma. I think oncologists and a lot of physicians don't really grasp how traumatic being in the fight for cancer really is. But it's not just that. It's the fight for cancer, it's the...
Tana Amen: Worry, the fear.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... Route 91 massacre that you were able to survive, but it's also being the wife of a police officer who's experienced a lot of trauma. But if you love him, and it seems like you do, that every day, you worry about, "Well, what's going to happen today?" And that's sort of, it's the zebra's like the trauma happens once and then it's done...
Tana Amen: But it doesn't.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and their nervous system goes back to normal, but not when you're in it day after day, year after year.
Tana Amen: Yeah. I actually wanted to touch on the first responder bit. So I met Daniel, he scanned me two weeks after I met him, and never heard that line before that he wanted to see my brain but, so, but it was really interesting because I have the diamond pattern and so he started questioning me about my past and it didn't occur to me at the time. I was a Level A trauma unit at Loma Linda where the helicopters fly in, and I started thinking about it, I'm like, "I don't think it's my past as much as it is, honestly..." I mean, it probably was and I was just in denial.
But I honestly, the thing that had been so on my mind for the prior years, I don't know if police officers go through this, maybe they don't because they're men. Maybe they handle it differently. I remember just feeling sick every day I would go on that unit for the first few months and the, I mean, physically ill, because I didn't know how to like process what I was seeing; moms on the floor screaming as their, gun shot wound to the chest, gunshot wound to the head of their kid walking in the wrong place at the wrong time. That trauma, I think that's what actually was building up. I think that's what he was seeing more than anything. So first responders, you see even, you see it before I got to see it.
Troy Zeeman: Right, right.
Tana Amen: So, it's hard.
Troy Zeeman: So we see the carnage on a daily basis, especially when I got on the department when I was 21. I did nothing but soccer. That's all I did. Soccer and then became a cop, and I worked in South-Central in LA for a long time, and it was every day. And it's tough to not only see the carnage and the trauma there, but you have to deal with it. And I think that there's a lot that goes behind research that shows that officers are dealing with trauma constantly, and that's why we're getting high suicide rates.
Tana Amen: Right.
Troy Zeeman: In-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Double the population. I mean, double.
Tana Amen: That's so sad.
Troy Zeeman: That's pretty [crosstalk 00:04:01]. That's high.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Now that is... It's unacceptable. It's just unacceptable. And during your training to be a police officer, how much training did you get on, "Well, how do I deal with this psychologically? How do I deal with my brain when my brain is exposed to stress?"
Troy Zeeman: And I got hired in the '90s so it wasn't as important as it is nowadays. I think we do a lot better job doing that, but it still is a practice and very common that officers, it's hard. It's hard for us to be that vulnerable person to go get help. And I think that's one of the things that we deal with as law enforcement everywhere is, not only are we seeing the trauma and we're trying to be empathetic and we're trying to be compassionate, but then people don't understand where we come from. And you can't imagine the things that we do.
Tana Amen: Nope.
Troy Zeeman: And because of that, you see an officer do something and you're like, "Well, I wouldn't have done that." And then you immediately go to, "Well, he's a bad dude."
Tana Amen: Right.
Troy Zeeman: And then now, now, not only are we being empathetic and compassionate and trying to go out there and putting our families...
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Troy Zeeman: On the line. Okay, hold on... On the line. But we are also being told we're bad people.
Tana Amen: Right.
Troy Zeeman: And that's a hard thing.
Tana Amen: It's so unfair.
Sharon Zeeman: Not, not are they at their work necessarily are like some people telling them they're bad people, or them concerned about...
Tana Amen: No, it's society.
Sharon Zeeman: It's all the time.
Tana Amen: Right.
Sharon Zeeman: He's off duty and the news comes on and that's a trigger immediately because there's a video of...
Tana Amen: They're not showing the other side.
Sharon Zeeman: They're not showing the whole video, they're not showing, and then immediately it's that jump into, "This person is bad because I wouldn't have done it." And so when he's at home relaxing, these situations are happening on social media. They're happening in my... Troy chose to be a police officer because he wanted to protect and serve. That's what he's always wanted to do. That's what, and it kills him that he can't do the job that he always wanted to do because he's always having to look over his back.
Tana Amen: Yeah, no, I, that's, it's tragic.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So when I did a ride along preparing for my brain health with the police department, I asked the young officer I was with, what's his biggest worry? And it's just what you guys are talking about. It's, "I'm going to make a mistake, I'm going to get sued."
Tana Amen: Public perception.
Dr. Daniel Amen: "I could end up in jail when I'm always trying to do the right thing." And with social media I say, every idiot has a voice.
Tana Amen: People are cowards.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And unfortunately the news goes to what gets the most clicks and what gets the most clicks is conflict. And so it distorts the reality of the situation, and so that's why for me, I don't read the comments. And some of them are awesome and some of them are horrible and I tell all the young stars I see, it's like, "Don't read the comments because they're going to poison your mind, and they're not real. They're not real."
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's, this was an interesting conversation I had with one of my nieces. She grew up in a lot of trauma with, without getting into that story, we were driving one day and she said something about a cop and I'm like, I was a little shocked. And I'm like, "Where did that come from?" Because she's young. I'm like, "Where do you think that feeling came from? Why do you have that perception of police officers?" And she was quiet for a minute. She's really smart kid. But she was quiet for a minute and she goes, "Because my first memories of cops were bad." And I said "why?" And she said, "Because I remember being in the back of a car with my dad." And I'm like, "Okay, so now we're getting somewhere. So your perception of police officers is related to your dad." I said, "How many times does your dad been arrested?" And she stopped. And I said, "So your perception of a police officer is based on someone else breaking the law repeatedly. It's not based on your own experience with them."
And so when I was growing up, every time I saw a cop, I felt safer because I never felt safe otherwise, [inaudible 00:00:08:25]. So, isn't it interesting how your perception can be skewed by your environment growing up?
Troy Zeeman: Yes.
Tana Amen: And it's really important that we start pointing this out to our kids because they go through life adopting these ideas that aren't even theirs.
Troy Zeeman: Right. Right.
Tana Amen: They're not even their ideas.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So let's summarize some of the things that we've learned. If you've been in a traumatic situation, the sooner you get help, the better. The scans can really help because it can uncover things you may not know that are there. Whatever venue you're in, if you're in a public venue, just start paying attention that where are the exits in case someone goes crazy.
Sharon Zeeman: I take a first aid kit everywhere I go. Even [crosstalk 00:09:07]-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? And you know, it may only happen, it may never happen in your life, and it may only happen once or twice, but it's just a good idea to be prepared and to be aware. What are some of the other things you teach people that you think are just super helpful?
Troy Zeeman: We actually teach Run, Hide, Fight. It's a Department of Homeland Security mantra that they put out there and we teach how to actually run in an event such as this, and we teach how to actually hide in an event such as this. And then we teach that last resort of how to actually fight in an event like this. And some of that fighting doesn't mean you have to be physical. You're still fighting through your emotions. You're still fighting through the physiological effects that you're going through, and sometimes you have to fight through injury, but you can make it.
And one of the things that we teach everybody and we want everybody to know, is that we have grown up knowing that if you cut your finger, you have to go immediately to hospital and get some stitches. But I can tell you that your body is unbelievably resilient to damage. You can take immense amount of damage and still be able to save yourself or others.
Sharon Zeeman: Don't shut down.
Troy Zeeman: Yes.
Sharon Zeeman: Don't give up.
Troy Zeeman: So don't think, "Just because I have an injury or I got shot that I have to give up," I have to continue to go. Obviously, there are a couple of places in your body that if you take a bullet to, you're probably not going to be able to walk out of there, but just because you get injured, we talk about the injuries that happened at Las Vegas, we talk about the injuries that I've seen on duty in LA, and how people have have fought through those injuries and done the things they did.
One of the things is just like we talked about before, was the officers. Some people say, "Why does it take five officers to take somebody down?" Well, I can tell you that unless we're trying to put them to sleep in a bad way, it's hard to resist, it's hard to hold down one adult person. Male, female, [crosstalk 00:11:02]-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Especially if they're on drugs.
Troy Zeeman: Right. I mean, it's amazing. Your bodies are amazing.
Tana Amen: Their adrenaline is surging too.
Troy Zeeman: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And a show of force helps to calm people down. I mean, I know that as a psychiatrist, if somebody on the ward becomes aggressive, the more people you can get to help, the calmer that person becomes.
Troy Zeeman: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right?
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:19] counter intuitive-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Where do they run? Do they run away from it, do they, is there a strategy to run?
Troy Zeeman: Yes. Our strategy is to assess, make a plan where you are going to run to. It's a short run. It's not, "I'm going to run to Angel Stadium," but it's a short plan, "I think that I can go out the door." Once you get out the door, you're going to reassess and then you're going to run again, and whatever that plan is, if my plan is to go to the front door, then you only run to that front door and then reassess. You don't just run through the door and then just keep running aimlessly. One of the things that happened at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England was that a person goes into the concert, detonates, and then as they run out another gunman is outside. So if they made the plan to run to the door, they could reassess that before running into the next gunmen. So that's kind of the things that we talk about.
Sharon Zeeman: I think one of the most interesting things to me that I've heard Troy talk about, because it was, I mean, I'm educated by listening to him talk too, is when we do the site walk through, so we can walk through your building facility, like a grocery store or your church or anything, Troy actually shows people all of the deficiencies that the active shooter has, and all the advantages as a civilian that we have. And we're just not trained that way.
Tana Amen: Yeah, we wouldn't see it.
Sharon Zeeman: We think that someone has a gun, they have all the advantages and we were just sitting ducks and we have nothing to do... Excuse me. And that is, I think one of the biggest takeaways. Troy will show you the safest walls to hide on, Troy will show you if the person was coming towards you, how you can utilize a, he loves the three-hole punch to talk about, the old three-hold heavy, three-hole punch. So it's extremely interesting to see how he does that, shows you, you're going to run, you don't want to run in a straight line because that's an easy target. So those are all different things that it's very empowering to know that we actually have more power than they do.
Tana Amen: Yes, agree. I agree, and I, that's one of the reasons I like to train so much. It's not because I think that I'm tough, it's because I feel safer. I feel safer when I'm training. The more knowledge I have, the safer I feel. Maybe that's a misconception, but at least I have something. It's, after being attacked when I was 15, you either go into victim, I went into victim mode for about a week and I went, "No, this isn't okay. I don't like this. Why is it my fault that some crazy guy grabbed me on the street?" And so I flipped that switch, and it's, maybe I still, like you said earlier, maybe if I fought I wouldn't win, but at least I'm going to fight. And that training empowers you to feel like you can do something, even if it's get away.
Sharon Zeeman: Absolutely.
Tana Amen: So, usually, if it's get away.
Troy Zeeman: I know with my job we see a lot of the suspects that we take into custody, and one of the things that mentally defeats them is if we can make them powerless.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Troy Zeeman: So if we can make them powerless, they are defeated and they don't resist, either physically or verbally. But if they feel empowered, they will resist more physically or verbally.
Tana Amen: Right.
Troy Zeeman: And so if we use the strategies of, "The more people that get there, maybe we can defeat them mentally real quick and make them feel like they don't have control." So I use that in our training to say, "If you have control you are going to be better off."
Tana Amen: That's important. I want to actually just touch on that again. So one of the reasons so many officers show up is to diffuse it quickly?
Troy Zeeman: Yes.
Tana Amen: So it's not to show the success of force, it's really in hope of not showing any force.
Troy Zeeman: So we, our research has found over the years is that if I fight with five officers, I'm less likely to get injured than if I fight with one.
Tana Amen: Because you're more likely to get shot.
Troy Zeeman: Or that one officer's going to try to do everything he can to knock you out.
Tana Amen: Excessive... right. Right. Because he's scared.
Troy Zeeman: Right, because he doesn't want to die.
Tana Amen: Right.
Troy Zeeman: I mean, we've seen over the years that one punch can knock an officer out and then the person gets the gun and kills the officer. I've had that three times, attempts on my life to hit me and get my gun. There is a tactic that bad people use and they train this in prisons and because of that-
Sharon Zeeman: That's good to know!
Troy Zeeman: Right. We watch it on video. So, I mean, these are things that the public doesn't understand. I understand we can't train the public on everything we know, but if you are fighting one officer, the only thing going through their mind is, "You're going to get my gun and kill me."
Tana Amen: Right.
Troy Zeeman: If you're fighting five, we have, we have more control. We feel safer with my partner there. I can hold your arms down and he can hold your legs, or she can grab your head and shoulders and hold him, pin you down, and then I can handcuff you.
Tana Amen: Right. And so all of this looks bad on video.
Troy Zeeman: Yes.
Tana Amen: But it's actually safer.
Troy Zeeman: It's much safer. Research shows that people are less likely to get the injuries that they would if they had one or two officers fighting them.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, I just want to say, we have to stop...
Tana Amen: Such a great... Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... because there's so much to do. I am so grateful you're both our friends, and I'm grateful for what both of you do to serve other people.
Tana Amen: Yes, thank you.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's why I just love the opportunity to work with the police that we do. I'm just grateful for you, and to learn more about their work S-C, as in cat, Z, as in zebra, sczactiveshooter.com. And you can communicate with them, and I just think what they're doing is amazing and it fits our Brain Warrior's Way community. Thank you so much.
Troy Zeeman: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Sharon Zeeman: Thank you.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code PODCAST10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com, or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.