Active shooter training prepares students for the worst

Active shooter training prepares students for the worst

Zayne Repp

Last Tuesday, in a joint effort between Residential Life and Campus Safety, Standards Training Group was brought to campus in order to provide a seminar on what to do in an active shooter situation.  There were two sessions, each lasting about two hours.  The sessions consisted of two sections — a lecture-style slideshow covering the proper steps to take in the case of an active shooter, as well as a live active shooter scenario played out by Standards Training Group speaker Adam Coughran.

Such a training seminar is undeniably necessary after the tragic events that transpired in Las Vegas last month; however, this is not the first time that such a resource has been provided by the college.  “We have put on this seminar in the past, five times last year alone,” said Associate Director of Residential Life Joe Melendez, “and we intend to make this an event every semester.”

The seminar proposed the use of the H.E.R.O. system in the event of an active shooter. H.E.R.O., is explained by Coughran,as an acronym that stands for Hide, Escape, Run, and Overcome. These are the proper responses when faced with an active shooter.  The ordering of the acronym, however, has no real significance, and each reaction should be taken in response to each unique situation. 

“It’s great,” said fourth-year Esther Hills, “there are certain things that you don’t even think about.” For example, a panicked response to an active shooter may be to pull a fire alarm, but Coughran warned against this practice: “That only serves to cause panic,” he said, “and the last thing you want is a crowd rushing out of a single exit.  That’s the kind of thing a shooter will be looking for.”

These are the small details that Standards Training Group wants those who attend their lectures to walk away with.  Coughran also emphasized the importance of having more than one fingerprint that can unlock your phone due to the unpredictable nature of these situations. He demonstrated the difficulty that one might have typing in a passcode or attempting to use a trembling hand on the fingerprint sensor.  “Every second counts,” Coughran said, “because the national average police response time is 15 minutes to an active shooter call.  In a typical active shooter situation, 24 people die every minute.”

Although these statistics may seem only to inspire fear, these are the realities of such situations. Coughran made sure to present the bleak subject matter in a fashion that was clearly intended to educate and not scare. The Department of Homeland Security website says that in many active shooter situations, “There is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter, and these situations are, by their very nature, unpredictable and evolve quickly.” 

“I think the seminar was real and great,” said Siobhan Skerritt, Director of Student Rights at Whittier College, “it was appropriately educational.” 

Residential Life and Campus Safety intend to bring Standards Training Group back to campus in the Spring semester for another seminar, but until then you can contact the Counseling Center at 562-907-4239 in order to talk about any feelings you may have surrounding the recent shooting events in the country.