*Editor’s Note- The names and identities of the Department of Homeland Security personnel have been omitted for their safety.
Department of Homeland Security special agents gave a presentation about responding to an active shooter situation in the Science Building auditorium, April 18.
After being introduced by Rick Los, a lecturer in the UVU Criminal Justice Department, the presenters began by bringing up some significant shootings in recent U.S. history. The shootings that they mentioned all occurred at educational institutions, the most recent of which was in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
According to an FBI study on active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, 24.3 percent or 39 incidents occurred in educational environments.
The agents continued by showing a video of active shooter scenarios and how to respond to them. The video introduced the key points that the DHS special agents wanted everyone who attended to learn before leaving: run, hide, fight.
Run, hide and fight are simple stages of action to be taken by anyone who might find his or herself in an active shooter situation. According to the agents, the actions should occur in that order of priority. Run, if possible, to the nearest and/or safest exit route. If running is not possible or safe, hide.
While discussing the actions of running or hiding, the agents also talked about cover and concealment. They defined concealment as something that can block you from the attacker’s view but might not stop bullets. Cover is something that will block bullets. According to the presenters, both should be sought during an active shooter situation and everyone should try to think about cover and concealment where ever they go.
Thinking of cover and concealment is part of a mindset that the agents encouraged attendees to develop. The mindset involves thinking about possible dangerous situations before they occur and increasing awareness of surroundings, according to the agents.
The agents also spoke about the fight stage of action. They recommended making use of anything in the area as a weapon. They also stressed that fighting is a last resort, but if anyone is in an active shooter situation and must fight, they should fight with all the intensity and aggression he or she can muster.
At the end of the presentation, the DHS agents allowed questions.
One audience member explained that she is a teacher and asked what alternatives she might have since she has no intention or desire to hurt or kill someone.
In response, one of the agents asked if she would fight if her children were in danger. He continued by explaining that there is usually something for which everyone has a reason to fight.