Wisc. Citizens Learn Response Options to Active Shooter Scenario
Nov. 11—Tossing a Bible or a heavy purse at an armed intruder in church might not seem like the wisest tactic, but it's one of the things police suggest people in that situation do.
Law enforcement programs on active shooters generally advise the development of heightened situational awareness, such as knowing where all the exits are, and tactics such as running, hiding or, as a last resort, fighting to temporarily stun shooters.
"I would never have thought to throw something at an active shooter to distract them," said Holly Irving, who took a training session provided by Dane County Sheriff's Office Dep. Josalyn Longley at Madison's St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Parish, where Irving works. "Or that you can text 911. That is something that stuck in my brain."
"Try to get out of the building if you can," said Duane Reichel, who attended one of Longley's sessions as a member of the security team at campus-area ministry Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, about what he learned. "And when the police come, put your hands up. They don't know who's innocent and who's the perpetrator when they first arrive."
Another recommended lifesaving tactic is having survivors provide limited medical assistance as soon as possible, rather than waiting for emergency first responders to arrive.
"Just be prepared to do something simple, like putting pressure on a wound or helping someone get to an ambulance," Longley said. "In Las Vegas, the reason those numbers weren't higher (in the Oct. 1 mass shooting at a concert, the nation's deadliest at 58 killed) is because bystanders rendered aid. At Virginia Tech (in Blacksburg, Virginia, where 32 were fatally shot on April 16, 2007), kids were making tourniquets out of extension cords."
Law enforcement reported a surge in training requests after the Las Vegas massacre and expected the same from last Sunday's mass shooting at a church in Texas.
Wisconsin has seen two church-related mass shootings at churches. In March 2005, Terry Michael Ratzmann shot and killed seven members of his church, the Living Church of God, before fatally shooting himself at a Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, where the church was holding a service.
And in August 2012, Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and himself at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek.