Active shooter training held for diocesan staff Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- With stories of workplace and school shootings making up the latest news headlines, the task of learning how to protect one’s self and save lives is gaining importance.

Staff members from the Diocese of Madison and other organizations in the Holy Name Heights building recently took part in active shooter training in order to be prepared to react to an event, if it should happen.

The purpose of the training, presented by Deputy Josalyn Longley and Cindy Holmes from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, was because “we want you to be able to take responsibility to participate in your own survival,” said Holmes.

‘Run. Hide. Fight.’

The two presenters said that the average active shooter event lasts four to eight minutes, more than 70 percent of active shooter incidents are over in five minutes or less, and the national average for response by law enforcement is five to six minutes.

They emphasized the importance of taking action and not being passive, or worse, an easy target.

They said the old mentality of hiding under a desk, when trouble arises, or having groups of people huddled in a corner, usually in the case of a school incident, is over.

They presented the three concepts of “run,” “hide,” and “fight.”

Run means, “If you can get out, get out,” said Holmes. “You have to react according to what’s in front of you at the moment.”

She emphasized the importance of knowing where all the exits in a building are, as well as knowing how to escape through a window, if need be.

If one isn’t able to get away from the scene, hiding is the next best solution, or “make yourself as hard a target as possible” if you can’t get out.

The speakers cited examples of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and how some students were able to barricade classroom doors to keep the shooter out.

They also said it’s important to know the setup of the room you’re in and what could be used to block the door, such as a desk or filing cabinet.

They also said that tying an electrical cord around door handles, especially on double doors, could stop someone from getting in.

Even when trying to hide, one should always be looking for escape options.

They added that fighting doesn’t necessarily mean physically confronting the active shooter, but “break their concentration if at all possible” and disrupt their thought process.

They said anything could be used as a “weapon” to distract the shooter, such as a stapler, phone, or other office item.

‘If you see something, say something’

The presenters also talked about the importance of “if you see something, say something.”

Holmes said that if something doesn’t “feel right” to report it, adding she preferred going on calls when it was “nothing” versus no one reporting an incident and people being hurt or killed.

Things to keep in mind are unusual items or situations, such as a vehicle in an odd location or a window or door open that is normally closed; or people asking for information about a building or security beyond what is normal curiosity or checking out certain parts of it.

Even if you aren’t sure it’s serious, you’re still advised to report it.

Warning others

The presenters also said it’s important to let others know what is going on if there is a dangerous situation happening.

They cited the example of the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek in 2012, when two children in the parking lot, who had witnessed a shooter killing someone, were able to run and warn people inside about the gunman, potentially saving many lives.

They said in an office setting, it’s more practical to use clear language as to what is going on rather than code words, which can be confusing.

Taking action

The most important thing Longley said was that people take action.

“This training is about empowerment,” she said.

She added the importance of a “warrior mindset” or doing everything and anything one can to protect themselves during an active shooter situation, be it running, hiding, or fighting.

“Passiveness is deadly,” she emphasized.

“The best thing you can do is the right thing . . . the worst thing you can do is nothing,” said Longley.

Next month, priests from the Diocese of Madison, along with key staff members, have been invited to a similar session so they can learn how to use methods for protection in their parishes.

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