Active-shooter training opens eyes to the importance of planning
When it comes to active-shooter situations, preparation is the key. During a Tuesday training session, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services employees received valuable information on how to deal with emergency situations from Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Bureau Commander for Special Investigations and Operations and SWAT team leader Randy Pollard.
Pollard outlined a plan that encouraged participants to run, hide, or fight and elaborated on how to handle each strategy.
The main message is to take ownership by opening the lines of communication, Pollard said. This can lead to a better response for any catastrophic situation.
“Security is based upon each individual, so this allows people to start having discussions in their small groups, cubicles, and every other space about what they would do,” he said. “Really, what we have found through trainings with 1,800 people in the last year-and-a-half is that once the discussion starts they realize that this is about any dynamic event. Evacuation plans fall short sometimes.”
The goal, Pollard said, is to have everyone ready to evaluate their response by the end of the training session.
A popular response to shootings is for people to say, “it will not happen here.” This is a safety blanket and prevents people from being prepared, Pollard said.
Pollard said the initial reaction to an active-shooter situation should be to run. In this scenario, he advised participants to:
- Evacuate the facility if safe to do so
- Leave your belongings
- Visualize the entire escape route before beginning to move
- Avoid using elevators or escalators
He added that when you leave a structure to remember that if you can see it, it can see you. Run until you are tired, take a breath, and run some more. He added that it is important to know the location of every exit in the building.
The second option is to hide. If evacuating the facility is not possible:
- Hide in a secure area, preferably a designated shelter location
- Lock the door
- Blockade the door with heavy furniture
- Cover all windows
- Turn off all lights
- Silence any electronic devices
- Lie on the floor
- Remain silent
Those who are hiding should not concern themselves with calling 911. Pollard said this should only happen when a person is secure enough to have a conversation on the phone.
If neither evacuating the facility nor seeking shelter is possible, occupants should attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by throwing objects, using aggressive force, and yelling.
“Action always beats reaction,” Pollard said. “When you take the initiative, you never give it back.”