Active Shooter Prevention expects the unexpected
On a daily basis, worldwide crises are broadcast for everyone to see, creating a small sense of impending doom while somehow managing to keep a bubble of happiness surrounding us. We empathize with people who suffer from the catastrophes of the world, but we hardly ever imagine the possibility of being in that position ourselves.
However, it makes sense that we are under this shelter of denial. We are told from a young age to be prepared for anything, but it’s not until we are older that we actually begin to understand what “anything” is.
In elementary school, we had to be prepared with crayons and glue sticks; in middle school, we had to be prepared with map pencils and rulers; in high school, we had to be prepared with pens and Scantrons.
Now that we are considered adults, we realize that there is more we need to be prepared for. We need to be prepared for all levels of the unknown by being ready for anything life throws our way — including the things we hope we would never have to be faced with.
One particular thing everyone hopes they will never have to face is a school shooting. While the likelihood of a school shooting taking place is minimal, it still does happen.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center website, there was an average decrease in non-gang, non-suicide on-campus school firearm deaths since 1992.
Overall, the CPRC did report that shooting statistics have decreased, but the evident spike in the 2012 – 2013 year causes some worry.
Here at UH, we have access to a program by UH Department of Public Safety called Active Shooter Prevention. Through this program, students, groups and teachers can learn how to react properly to school or workplace violence.
Lieutenant Richard Brenner, the training coordinator of Active Shooter Prevention, came to the department in 1995, bringing this program to the University with him.
On the UH Active Shooter Provention website, a video titled “Shots Fired” explains how to react if shots are fired in the workplace or on campus and also how to take the active-shooter training with Brenner.
“The purpose of the Shots Fired presentation and our active-shooter training in general is to provide guidance for surviving an active-shooter situation,” Brenner said. “The presentation uses the analogy of being struck by lightning to describe being involved in an active-shooter event, in that it is very unlikely but highly impactful when it does occur.”
The “Shots Fired” video, beginning with the startling sounds of multiple gunshots, goes into the survival mindset that students must have in order to act accordingly.
The concepts shown in the video are simple: get out, hide out or take out. Get out: Can you safely escape? Hide out: Is there a good place to hide? Take out: Will you take out the shooter?
The video suggests to decide how to act as a group. If you are in a classroom and gunshots are heard, decide what action to take and remain alert.
During the presentation, participants are taught to have a survival mindset so they would be able to allow their instincts to kick in and avoid feeling panic.
The thought that something tragic can happen quickly without warning is unsettling, and Brenner said that because these situations occur quickly, police often aren’t able to arrive before it ends.
In January, CNN reported that the number of active shooter events has increased from about five a year prior to 2009 to 15 in 2013, according to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center — affirming the report of the CPRC.
After tragedies like those at Sandy Hook Elementary or Aurora, Colo., Active Shooter Prevention tries to highlight the information on the website so viewers will have easier access to information.
The reality is that a mass shooting can happen anywhere, so every second counts in order to act quickly and with purpose.
Furthermore, with the allowance of concealed handgun licenses on campuses being debated, people wonder how having licensed users available may affect a situation. Some wonder whether having CHLs on campuses would provoke improperly used licenses or whether having members of the community with handguns would prevent disaster.
“Both armed and unarmed civilians have disrupted or ended active shooter situations in the past,” Brenner said. “Whatever the circumstance, prevention is the first step. Many incidents can be avoided by recognizing pre-incident indicators, which are covered in the program.”
These indicators include watching for suspicious subjects and following instincts. If you see a suspicious person or get an uneasy feeling, it is better to be safe and let someone of authority know.
Ultimately, we never would wish to be confronted with a situation like this, but it can happen. The bottom line is that we have to be cautious and aware. Having a crippling fear is not healthy — to prevent this, awareness is necessary.
While thinking of the world as a bed of hot stones is not wise, we do not need to be naïve to the truth of the world.
Accepting the possibility of this happening is healthy; expecting this possibility 24/7 is unhealthy.
To watch the “Shots Fired” video or for more information on Active Shooter Prevention training, students can go to the UH Active Shooter Provention website for more information. To request an in-person session, contact the UH DPS for more information or visit the Department of Homeland Security to learn more.
Senior staff columnist Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]