BOSTON (CBS) – Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and countless other tragedies, it seems we hear about shootings every week. That’s why police departments in Massachusetts and across the country are taking part in special training programs on how to handle what they call “active shooter situations.”
Trained officers are one thing, but what if there was an active shooter in your workplace. Would you know what to do? Experts say few people have given it much thought and that could be a deadly mistake.
“For too long, people have been trained to just hide and hopefully they won’t get you,” explained Kerry Harris, an expert on training people on what to do when faced with an active shooter.
But that line of thinking is changing. The Department of Homeland Security published a how-to for workers caught in a building with a shooter. The first and best option is to run, escape the building if possible. If you can’t get out, hide and secure a spot using whatever you can to block the door. A video produced for the city of Houston and paid for by the Department of Homeland Security shows a woman moving a heaving printer in front of the door in an effort to keep the shooter out. What is unexpected is the last resort. The video actually instructs victims to fight back and take down the shooter.
Milford Police Chief Thomas O’Loughlin says it may be intimidating, but it could be your best chance. “The approach is don’t just sit and wait. Think. Think on your feet and be prepared because that’s the difference of living or dying,” he said.
This aggressive approach may seem extreme, but it is taking hold nationwide. O’Loughlin is training teachers in town to use whatever they can to fight back if they can’t get out or safely lockdown their classroom. “It’s all about staying alive,” he said.
Experts like Harris say the average person has to understand he or she may not have time to wait for help to arrive. “By telling them to just hide and you are going to be OK, you are setting them up for failure,” he said.