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Everyone should have active shooter training

A few weeks ago, I found myself huddled with my coworkers in the back of the coffee shop where we work late on Sunday nights.


The power had been out in our store for two hours. When the lights came back on, I saw a flash of light in our drive-through window and something that sounded like a gunshot.


We all hit the floor and crawled to the back of the store.


No one spoke.


We listened, not sure if someone with a semi-automatic rifle was about to walk through the door. I called 911, wondering if I should text my siblings and my best friend, “I love you,” just in case.


I knew what I was going to do if someone walked through that door. But I’ve had active shooter training. My coworkers hadn’t.


Back in at my college in Colorado, I joined a club formed by pre-med students and students who had been on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The F.A.S.T. club, which stood for First Aid Survival Techniques, focused on teaching students one thing: what do you do in an active shooter scenario?


Our project turned into a freshman seminar class. We wanted to go nationwide, form chapters at every college and do seminars at businesses.


We met until most of our members graduated in 2013. Sandy Hook happened during that time, but some of the worst shootings in U.S. history — like the Las Vegas shooting, Sutherland Springs and the Pulse night club in Orlando — still hadn’t happened.


Last spring, my church held an active shooter workshop. The speaker covered many of the same things I’d learned from the club.


The first thing one learns in active shooter training is try to escape. If trapped, then one has to hide.


Less than two percent of violent intruder events here been committed by more than one person, the church speaker said. “So if he is inside, you get outside,” he told us.


But if one can’t get outside, don’t just sit there — make it hard for them to kill you. Be a moving target. Throw objects at the shooter like chairs and tables.

The church speaker said that children in schools should be taught to “run, hide and fight” as an active shooter response just like we’ve taught them to “stop, drop and roll” if they catch fire.


The speaker also said that lockdowns originated in prisons, which is a highly controlled environment, where responders come in and eliminate the threat. The lockdown response alone is not effective in the outside. The natural fight-or-flight response was trained out of schoolchildren and their teachers, he said, citing Virginia Tech as an example.


“You have to do something besides laying there and hoping this guy doesn’t decide to kill you — the worst thing you can do is nothing at all,” he said. “Do we see a problem with a passive response to an active threat? This guy is going to kill you. Lockdown as a single response option has killed people. When these events are victim-resolved, casualties stay lower.”


The national average response time of law enforcement to an active threat event is five to six minutes, but the average active shooter threat lasts three to seven minutes, the speaker said.


“While first responders are in route, you’re on your own and you can live or die in a split second, he said. “What you do matters.”


Back in the stock room of the coffee shop, all of this training was replaying in my mind as my heart raced. I told my coworkers to get ready to throw some chairs and boxes at anyone who walked through that door.


“Guys, I’m really freaking out,” one of them said. I know, I thought, but if we’re going to make it out of here, we’ve got to keep our heads.


The 911 dispatcher stayed on the phone with me and told me officers had checked the area and were waiting at our front door to talk to us.


The police told us the transformer behind our building exploded. There was no gunman after all. The adrenaline rush didn’t fade for about two hours, and that’s when I started shaking all over.


But if there had been a shooter, I knew I’d be able to respond first and panic afterwards. Unfortunately, in America today, this is a necessary skill. 

Category: Opinion