Friday, April 27, 2018

Active shooter training: A nice thing to have, just in case

Through a lifetime of drills and training we prepare ourselves for the very worst. School kids take part in fire drills. Employees do the same in their workplaces. Air travelers are besieged with emergency landing messages at the start of every flight. Concerned citizens get certified in first aid and CPR.

The chance of having to utilize anything learned in those exercises is rather slim. But, it’s good to have those tools in your arsenal because things happen: Kids have to escape their school during a gas leak; service workers have to vacate their restaurants during a fire; passengers have to get out of a plane during a water landing; and a Good Samaritan might find himself resuscitating a total stranger.  

The same outlook applied to those preparations (“it’s nice to have, but hopefully you never have to use it”) should also be practiced when it comes to active shooter incidents. Mass shootings are rare, but, still, they seem to be the domestic terrorist flavor of the day. And, they can happen anywhere, even in places that are supposed to offer respite from the evils of the world -- concerts, churches, and schools.

No place is safe. But, they might be a little safer if people are prepared. Opportunities to make you and them so are out there, and available to the general public.  

Last week, I took part in an active shooter seminar that was put on by Captain Aaron Schultz of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office. Eloquent, entertaining, and educational, he offered a lot of food for thought that I could use to prepare any of the organizations for which I work or volunteer. I found it to be a very worthwhile evening.

The NCSO is among a number of upstate law enforcement agencies that offer such classes at request. They don’t necessarily schedule public seminars because you don’t want every weirdo in town to know what places are prepared and how. Instead, they encourage businesses and non-profits to reach out to them to administer training that is more specific to the environment involved, be it a school, factory, hospital, restaurant, or church. The ball is in your court to book the training and I encourage you to do so.

Don’t be put-off by an assumptions you might have. At first blush, the average person might think that active shooter training would make you a shooter, too, someone trained to kill the perpetrator. That’s not the route such classes take. Captain Schultz spent very little time on that because it’s the policeman’s job to be the armed defender. Your average citizen isn’t ready to do that and doesn’t and can’t devote the hours and willingness of sacrifice to accept fire and then return fire quickly and accurately to take someone’s life without harming innocent bystanders in the process.   

Instead, he focused on a few critical areas that are more realistic, reasonable and useful for the masses.

First, he addressed the various aspects of run-hide-fight. As the system implies, you would hightail it in the event of a crisis; if you can’t, you barricade yourself; and if that doesn’t work, you beat the dickens out of the assailant (since most people don’t carry concealed firearms). The detailed thoughts he offered about every one of those things gives the uninitiated a solid survivalist understanding.

The Captain then talked about situational awareness. This is critical because it allows individuals to prevent things from escalating to gun violence because he gives you the tools to recognize the cues of an unstable person, or someone in need of help, and how that should be addressed.

His seminar concluded with a discussion about how to make your property and people ready for worst-case scenarios. Once you’re eyes are opened, you’ll find there are a lot of policies and minor changes to your facilities that can be done, and cheaply at that, to make everyone safer.

I would imagine that most sheriff’s departments follow and offer a similar class. Even much smaller departments shouldn’t be overlooked as a resource -- as an example, the Cuba Police Department in Allegany County has something they call CRASE (Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events).  

If you run a business or sit on a board or church council, take advantage of this free public service. We live in some strange times, so we have to be ready for some truly horrific happenings. A mass shooting will likely never occur in your presence, but if it does, or if it looks like it might, you want to do what you can to save your life and those of friends and family.   

From the 30 April 2018 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News    

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