Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TOP STORY >> Active shooter classes

Leader senior staff writer

Avoid killers, deny them access to your place of refuge, and if those fail, defend yourself any way you can—those are the responses to an active- shooter or other threat at a school, business, residence or anywhere, according to Lt. Brett Hibbs, a patrol and training officer with the Jacksonville Police Department.

Hibbs or other trainers teach civilian-response classes upon demand several times a year in the police and fire department training rooms, he said on Tuesday.

About a dozen people came to the Tuesday training held at the request of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

“We’d like to walk the business with you,” said Hibbs, to point out ways for people to protect themselves—making sure they know the fastest way out of a building or that doors and handles are sufficient to hold an intruder at bay while people can find a way out, or to secure the room or give police time to respond.

“If you can get out, get out,” Hibbs explained to the class.

But nationwide, the average response time to reports of an active shooter at a school is three to four minutes, so locking out and delaying a shooter for even a few minutes increases the likelihood of survival.

Hibbs said that despite mass killings of students at schools and colleges over the past few decades, a determined stranger could still walk in the front door and directly to classroom areas.

In 1998, a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old shot to death four students and a teacher and wounded 10 other students in Jonesboro. The following year, 15 people were killed and 21 wounded at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Hibbs said, 18 years later, schools are still soft targets.

Of the new high school and elementary school on the drawing board of Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, he said, “We’d like to make those schools safe.”

For schools or businesses, Hibbs said it was important to secure the classrooms and other rooms against intruders—doors that lock securely.

Doors that open inward can be blockaded with tables and chairs to keep someone from pushing in, if inward opening classroom doors are legal.

At the beginning of an event such as an active shooter or a fire, Hibbs said people go through three stages—the three “D’s”.

First is denial—those must be firecrackers or a car backfiring, not gun shots.

Second, upon recognizing the threat, is deliberation—what do I need to do?

And the third is the decisive moment, when a decision is made and action taken.

Situational awareness can save you, too, Hibbs said. When 100 people died at a Great White show at a club, if people had known where the exits were other than the doors they used to enter, many more people might have survived.

Gathered for the class Tuesday were employees from a bank, a church, the Jackson-ville senior center, Camp Robinson and more.

Hibbs said in the case of an active shooter, people who couldn’t escape must find a way to lock the door of the room in which they take shelter and have layers of protection, such as throwing up barricades and attacking the shooter with a fire extinguisher, heavy books or other equipment if he breached the door.

If it’s possible, shift emotions from fear to anger.

Hibbs said not many people knew that the man who shot two Little Rock National Army recruiters June 1, 2009, killing one, actually came to the area to attack the front gate at Little Rock Air Force Base, but discovered it was a hard target with armed guards.

An attack took place there last summer, but the attacker was killed by guards.