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Thoughts on Emergency Preparedness Related Topics

 

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In collaboration with the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released the 2023 report on Active Shooter Incidents in the United States. I am grateful for the individuals who dedicate their time and energy to create these resources that help educate the public on such an important topic.

These reports are another piece to the puzzle that help us identify what happened in the past so we can work together to prevent similar incidents moving forward. Every number represents real victims with family members and friends who have been impacted by the loss of their loved ones. One unnecessary death is too many. The chart below was created to help illustrate the overall trends in the number of Active Shooter incidents compared to the number of victims killed during the same timeframe (2000-2023). What stands out to you?

The Active Shooter Prevention Project (ASPP) community is focused on a prevention-first strategy. By using a layered approach, we can make our communities more Active Shooter resistant. Every organization has different needs and may have limited resources. Therefore, the layered approach may include some or all of the following: community outreach and engagement, assessments, predictive analytics, emergency action plans, interactive training, AI-powered gun detection, gunshot detection, security glass laminates, bullet resistant products, supplies and equipment, and an integrator who can bring it all together by implementing the technology.

One Unnecessary Death is Too Many

Author: Aaron L. Witt 

Posted: June 26, 2024

Information Overload

Author: Aaron L. Witt 

Posted: May 5, 2023

If you search, "how to respond during an active shooter incident " on the internet,  you will receive over 163 million results! If you feel a little overwhelmed or intimidated, don't worry, you are not alone. Overcoming an Active Shooter incident is a complex problem with many variables. Acknowledging there is a potential risk before it turns into an emergency is a step in the right direction. There is no universally accepted best practice for how to overcome an Active Shooter incident. However, there are certain strategies you can employ and proactive steps you can take to help mitigate these threats. 

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Be prepared without being paranoid Active Threat

 

Be Prepared Without Being Paranoid

The odds of being killed by an Active Shooter are very low. According to FBI statistics, a total of 1,203 people were killed by Active Shooters in the United States (U.S.) between 2000 - 2021. That is an average of 54.6 deaths per year (approximately 1 in 6,000,000). We can all agree that even one unnecessary death is too many, and we must do more as a society to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the first place. To put these odds into perspective, consider the following, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported there were 43 reported lightning fatalities annually in the U.S. over a 30-year period (approximately 1 in 7,600,000). 

 

We need to continue educating the public on how to overcome Active Threats using a whole-community approach. There are multiple ways we can help prevent these incidents. In addition to deterrence and decreasing stressors, we need to be focusing on recognizing, reporting, and acting on warning signs. When prevention fails, we need to be prepared to SURVIVE at all costs. In order to increase your preparedness level, learn more about Active Threats, develop a survival mindset, and have a plan. We cannot stop all the evil in the world, but we can work together to help limit the loss of life. Stay Safe!

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When someone calls 911, it can take the police several minutes to arrive at the location after being dispatched. And just because law enforcement is on the scene does not necessarily mean they are actively engaging the threat. The first Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) on the scene wears "many hats." The officer tries to utilize basic Incident Command System (ICS) concepts such as sizing up the situation, identifying contingencies, and developing a plan while trying to gather important information such as the last known location and description of the assailant. Depending on the officer's level of training, willingness to intervene, and physical/mental capabilities, he or she will either enter the hot zone alone, team up with other responding officers, or look to fill another role. 

 

When humans experience extremely stressful situations, we normally have one of three natural reactions: fight, flight, or freeze. "Freezing" doesn't just happen to private citizens, it can happen to the police too. This is one reason why law enforcement officers must take their training very seriously, have the proper equipment, and be both physically and mentally prepared to act without hesitation when seconds count. The longer law enforcement waits to intervene, the more time an assailant has to find more potential victims. 

 

The "Take ACTION"​ Law Enforcement Response Guide for Active Threats was developed to provide responding law enforcement officers with an acronym that may help them remember basic principles during a stressful and dynamic situation. This training aid  does not include all aspects of response and is for informational purposes only. Law Enforcement Officers should follow their Use of Force policy and all applicable laws. If you would like a downloadable .pdf file with "Take ACTION" pocket guides, please email your request to: a.train.tactical@gmail.com.

 

Disclaimer: This site does not provide legal advice and is for informational purposes only. The author is not liable or responsible for any damages related to your use of this information. This content may be edited as deemed necessary by the author. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this forum belong to the author and do not represent the views of any other parties. 

When Seconds Count, Take ACTION

Author: Aaron L. Witt 

Posted: March 12, 2023

Overcoming Active Killers in Schools: A Whole-Community Approach

There have been far too many tragedies in this country involving Active Killers. I use the term “Active Killers” because it covers a broader spectrum of bad actors than just individuals who use firearms to cause havoc. In other words, all Active Shooters are Active Killers, but not all Active Killers are Active Shooters. The term "Active Threat" can be used interchangeably with either Active Killer or Active Shooter. We have seen multiple attackers utilize various weapons such as firearms, knives, vehicles, and in the case of September 11th, 2001, jetliners to kill innocent people. Specific to Active Shooters, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there were 333 Active Shooter incidents in the United States from 2000-2019. Of these 333 attacks, 62 occurred on school property (pre-K through 12) or institutes of Higher Education.[1]

 

When we see these heartbreaking events being reported, many of us have a mixture of emotions including sadness, fear, anger, and frustration. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were injured and the families trying to cope with the devastating news. It does not take long for various news outlets to determine which details they will highlight and which facts they will omit to strengthen their positions on issues related to violence in our society. We are often quick to point the finger at others and assign blame. This distracts from addressing underlying issues and root causes.

 

The discussion often hinges on heated topics such as “gun control,” whether citizens and/or staff should have the right to carry firearms on school property, and what type of Active Threat training, if any, children should receive in schools. I would argue the aforementioned topics are definitely worth discussing; however, there are several other important topics that also need to be addressed. From the graphic above, you can see nine topics I believe are the key components we need to address as a community to help overcome Active Killers in our schools. We cannot afford to just talk about these issues, we need to take action and make the necessary adjustments to help save lives.

 

Various entities have attempted to create simple and easy to remember tactics and acronyms to help individuals respond to an Active Killer incident. Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted protocol for responding to these critical incidents. For example, if you have participated in Active Shooter training, depending on where and when you received the training, you may have a different strategy than the person sitting across from you. Should you evacuate, lock down, or try to incapacitate the shooter? What happens if you freeze, and your body will not move? If you have barricaded yourself in a room, where should you position yourself, up against the door, under a desk, or up against the wall near the door?

 

Instead of trying to come up with a new acronym or response slogan, I would rather give you one word to remember in case you are ever faced with an Active Killer. The word, in all capital letters is, “SURVIVE!” You must develop a survival mindset and tell yourself that no matter what happens, you will do whatever it takes to survive, and you will never give up. In order to survive, you may need to take one action or a combination of several actions. For example, if you are “hiding,” do not be passive, be ready to react in case you need to move quickly or defend yourself. Additionally, if the location of the Active Threat is unknown on a campus, locking down may be a better option than evacuating. Knowing which action to take will depend on several factors such as your proximity to the shooter, which way the shooter is moving, and your access to an exit.

 

In addition to teaching others the importance of having a survival mindset and receiving training on how to respond when an Active Killer is on the loose, we need to focus on the before (prevention) and the after (recovery). Benjamin Franklin is often credited with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This speaks volumes when we are talking about Active Killers. It is impossible to stop every bad actor in the world. However, we can ensure we are being proactive in our approach and looking for effective ways to prevent these attacks, especially in our schools.

 

According to a report by the U.S. Secret Service, there were 67 potential school attacks that were averted in the United States from 2006 – 2018.[2] This report reemphasizes how effective communities can be when warning signs are identified, reported, and acted upon appropriately. Many Active Killer attacks are grievance based. We should be asking ourselves if we are doing enough to help decrease various stressors. For example, are we teaching our children to love others rather than bully them? Do we encourage our kids to intervene when they see others being bullied and offer friendship, or do we tell them not to get involved? Are our teachers and staff trained to identify, report, and act on warning signs? What are the warning signs, who do they report them to, and who’s responsibility is it to act?

 

There are experts who are making a significant impact on how we approach the topic of Active Threats in our communities. For example, Chris Grollnek is the founder of the Active Shooter Prevention Project (ASPP), LLC https://aspppro.com/ . Mr. Grollnek has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on Active Shooter incidents, and he has been instrumental in recognizing the need to shift our efforts from a defensive, fear-based approach to a prevention-first strategy. Mr. Grollnek’s innovative “Prevention, Response, & Options (PRO Model) and his “First Preventers” strategies have the potential to save many lives. I have had an opportunity to speak to Mr. Grollnek and he is very committed to helping our communities stay safe.

 

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most heated topics in our society revolves around gun violence. Many people have strong beliefs regarding firearms and often prefer not to discuss the issue to avoid conflict. I won’t offer my position on guns in schools in this post; however, I will offer my opinion on responsible gun ownership. I own at least one firearm and it is my belief that gun owners have a responsibility to lock up their firearms when they are not in use. This simple strategy helps limit who can gain access to a firearm. A persistent person may be able to acquire a weapon one way or another. However, if we can eliminate the likelihood of someone gaining unauthorized access to a firearm from a closet shelf or an inexpensive lockbox, we may be able to save more lives. We need to come together to discuss issues and come up with practical solutions to help protect those who are the most vulnerable.

 

There is a lot more to discuss on the nine key topics identified in the “Overcoming Active Killers in Schools: A Community-Based Approach” model. Stay tuned for future entries of “The Forum.” If you have any comments related to this post, please feel free to email: a.train.tactical@gmail.com.

 

Disclaimer: This site does not provide legal advice and is for informational purposes only. The author is not liable or responsible for any damages related to your use of this information. This content may be edited as deemed necessary by the author. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this forum belong to the author and do not represent the views of any other parties. 

 

1 Active Shooter Incidents 20-Year Review, 2000-2019, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

2 National Threat Assessment Center. (2021). Averting Targeted School Violence: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Plots Against Schools. U.S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security

Overcoming Active Killers in Schools: A Whole-Community Approach 

Author: Aaron L. Witt 

Posted: May 2, 2022

Take action, be prepared. TM

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