Run, hide or fight.
Those three actions may save your life in an active shooter situation similar to December’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., according to Oakland County Homeland Division officials.
About 85 Oakland County school administrators, teachers and school staff focused on the kind decisions one may have to make in an active shooter situation during a 2 and a half hour training session at the Executive Office Building in Waterford Thursday.
The important takeaway—react quickly.
Teachers were told to have an evacuation plan prepared and, as a first action, to flee a bad situation, bringing their students with them but only if safe to do so. If not safe, the next step is to hide, preferably behind something that is made of metal, concrete, or block. And, if all else fails, as a last resort, fight.
“If you can’t escape or run, then throw a table, swing a purse, throw a fire extinguisher,” said Homeland Security Specialist Michael Loper. “Commit 110 percent with anything you can get your hands on.”
Statistics show 43 percent of active shooters will take their own life. They come prepared to die, Loper said, not prepared to fight.
Teachers were also told what to expect and how to react to first responders:
- Avoid pointing, screaming, yelling.
- Do not ask officers for help or directions.
- Evacuate with hands up and fingers open. Officers arriving are in a high stress situation—they are in hunter mode—and even a cellphone in your hand can look like a weapon, officials said.
In addition to helping school districts prepare an action plan, Homeland Security is working with law enforcement across the county on a unified response plan, Loper said.
“If an event happened at Royal Oak High School, and Berkley and Troy police were called in to help, we want everyone to be on the same page, regardless of what department they belong to,” said Loper.
"We’re a consortium. We’re not little kingdoms anymore,” as one official put it.
The Troy School District sent 24 principals, administrators, teachers and other staff to the active shooter training.
Steve Brandimore, Safe-Ed security specialist in the district and retired Troy police officer, said he found the training to be helpful.
"The training that they gave was a repetition of what I'd heard for 25 years," he said. "But what I saw on the faces of those there, it appeared very beneficial."
Brandimore said attendees were asked to think about and visualize different situations. He said they discussed a combination of workplace and school violence.
"The Oakland County sheriffs were able to tailor it to each school," he said.
The trainers were asked about specific situations based on events in each of the schools, Brandimore said. He said attendees explained how they handled situations and asked for the trainer's thoughts.
Brandimore said getting that immediate feedback was good.
"You don’t get to talk to an officer," he said. "It gives a little bit more confidence in the administrators and principals to know that the Troy schools have a good policy in place."
He said he is cooperating with the Oakland County sheriffs and the Troy Police Department to create teacher seminars catered to Troy schools.
"We want to reinforce the message by coming up with a class and engaging each school specifically," he said.