Ten to 15 minutes is about how long an active shooter situation lasts from start to finish.
“Most of the time they go in quickly, they kill as many people as they can kill very quickly and that’s it,” said Southern Oklahoma Technology Center Training Developer Kerry Blankenship.
The decisions people make during that time can mean life or death, Blankenship said. At Southern Tech’s July 30 active shooter training course, individuals were taught some methods to prepare for and deal with the situation if it were to happen to them.
A broad array of around 30 people from various organizations and within the community were in attendance.
Local resident Lee Piatt said he had often wondered what to do if an active shooter situation occurred at his church — a place where active shooter situations have occurred in the past.
“If I want to go where there are potentially non-violent people that, odds are, are not armed, why wouldn’t I go to a church?” Blankenship said.
However, the majority of active shooter incidents actually occur at businesses, Blankenship said. 10 percent occur at government facilities, 25 percent at schools and 45 percent at businesses.
Prior to attending the class, Piatt said he had told his wife that if they were ever in an active shooter situation the best course of action would probably be to hide under the seats.
But Blankenship said evacuation is the best option if one is able to do so. Moving targets are harder to hit, he said. And if individuals get into the habit of looking for exits and being aware of their surroundings then they can escape faster.
If escaping is not an option, hide and lock the door using any means possible — anything from a belt to a zip tie, Blankenship said. And if it comes down to it, be prepared to fight for your life.
“This may be a little controversial for some people, but you do whatever you have to do to stop the assailant,” Blankenship said. “You use whatever means necessary you have. It boils down to how much you want to live.”
Objects around the office such as letter openers, paper weights and even hard-back textbooks can be used as weapons, he said.
Blankenship said the number of active shooter situations have gone down over the past few years and part of that can be attributed to people being more prepared. When mass shootings like the 1999 Columbine High School massacre occurred, most people were unprepared to deal with the situation, he said.
“That was the big one that everybody remembers that actually changed our thought process when we look at active shooters,” Blankenship said.
Knowing an organization’s emergency procedures and how to contact local law enforcement are important aspects of being prepared.
Piatt said there were many things he learned that he had never thought about before and that he feels better equipped to deal with a potential active shooter situation.
“I never thought about what order is best — run, hide or fight,” Piatt said. “But you never know what you’re going to think about when you get into an emergency situation. I think I’m better prepared now than what I was before I came.”
Blankenship said Southern Tech will be hosting more active shooter training classes in the future due to the large attendance of the July 30 class. With more education on the matter, Blankenship said he hopes people will feel empowered rather than fearful.
“You can’t live under a rock your whole life. Do not let it scare you. Knowing how to act, everyone has the power to save lives,” Blankenship said.