Public needs to prepare for active shooter event

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

Jan. 30, 2018 at 8:51 p.m.
Updated Jan. 31, 2018 at 6 a.m.

   Contributed photo by Metro Creative for The Victoria Advocate

Active shooters plan well in advance for their attacks, so the general public also needs to plan on what to do in an active shooting incident.

Victoria Police Department Officer John Turner gave a presentation Tuesday morning at the Victoria Economic Development Corp.'s weekly Partnership meeting on how to handle an active shooter event.

"It's a shame we have to talk about situations like this, but unless you've lived under a rock for the last few decades, you know this is part of the world we're living in," he said. "Wishing it wouldn't happen and hiding our heads in the sand isn't going to do anything to prevent it."

Between 2000 and 2016, there were 220 active shooter events in the U.S., Turner said. As of 2016, the worst active shooter event in the U.S. was at the Pulse Nightclub that killed 50 people and injured 53. But that changed in October with the Las Vegas active shooter event, which killed 58 people and injured 851.

Closer to the Crossroads was the worst active shooter church event in Sutherland Springs, near San Antonio. Twenty-six people were killed and 20 were injured in November.

"We've got to discuss this," Turner said. "I guarantee right now as we speak, the next one is being planned. Just like they plan, we have to plan. We have to prepare."

Duck-and-cover doesn't work, and instead, people need to avoid, deny and defend, Turner said. They need to avoid the event by getting to a safe place and getting out of the area.

The next step is to deny the shooter by barricading any entrances, locking the door and turning off the lights.

If those two options fail, they need to defend themselves and get the gun away from the shooter.

"The less time you spend in that situation, the better off you are," he said. "You can't be harmed if you're not there to be harmed. If you can't get away, deny this person access to you."

Every person goes through the same thought process when they are in a disaster, Turner said. They go through denial and deliberation and then make a decision.

During denial, they try to understand their surroundings. Once they accept the situation, they come up with a plan and then put it into action.

Those who have pre-planned for an active shooter event are more likely to survive, Turner said.

People need to stay calm in these situations and keep their stress levels low, Turner said. Deep breathing helps: breathing through the nose for four counts, holding it for another four counts and exhaling for four counts. Doing this three or four times will lower stress levels.

Knowing surroundings is important as well as knowing exits, Turner said. Leave as soon as possible, and call 911 when in a safer place.

"Don't get yourself hung up on doors," he said. "We can bust through Sheetrock, we can bust through windows. Whatever we have to do to make yourself safe."

When defending, people should get as close to the shooter as possible, and the first person in line should go for the gun and push it away, Turner said. The others should combat the shooter with chairs or anything else available.

People should also script and practice for an active shooter event, Turner said. The average time for police to arrive to an event is three minutes, and shooters know that. Until then, those in the event are their own first responders.

"Always help yourself first," he said. "If you run into a mess and get shot or whatever, you're no help to anyone."


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