Active Shooter Training
Spike in LGBT interest post-Orlando
As the number of mass shootings continue to increase across the country, public demand is increasing for training in what to do if one finds themselves in the middle of an active shooter situation. And the June 12 shooting at Orlando LGBT nightclub Pulse that left 49 dead and 53 injured called particular attention to the safety of patrons at LGBT establishments both here in Atlanta and beyond.
While the Atlanta Police Department has confirmed increased patrols and the presence of plainclothes Homeland Security officers at the city’s LGBT establishments, various metro Atlanta police departments are also offering workshops to the public on active shooter situations.
The Clayton County Sheriff ’s Office has teamed up with the Clayton County Police Department to provide active shooter survival training to any business, place of worship or group that wants the training in Clayton County. The Marietta Police Department has held several active shooter survival workshops for civilians, the most recent being on June 20 at Marietta High School. The Atlanta Police Department held four workshops on the topic earlier this year and they tell Georgia Voice that there are plans to do another but they have not locked down a date yet.
Texas State University program is national standard
Before mass shootings became so common, active shooter training was just for law enforcement officers. The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program (ALERRT), which was created at Texas State University in 2002, has become the national standard in such training. The FBI adopted the program following the Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that left 27 dead.
As a result of increasing public awareness of such training and how to get it, the same team behind ALERRT created the Avoid, Deny, Defend (ADD) method for civilians. They’ve created a website for ADD that includes training materials, posters, flyers, videos and more.
The resources available include a look into the science of how people behave in high stress events like active shooter situations. They argue that there are three phases of response— denial, deliberation and the decisive moment.
Disaster survival researcher Amanda Ripley found that contrary to the common perception of people panicking and running during such situations, it was more common for them to deny that the event was happening.
“It takes time for the brain to process the novel information and recognize that the disaster is a threatening situation,” the site reads.
If a preexisting plan is not already in place for such situations, that leads to greater stress and therefore limits the body’s ability to perceive information and make plans. The physical effects of that stress include deteriorating motor skills, deteriorating cognitive processing, tunnel vision and more.
“Freezing is almost always the wrong response,” the site reads. “It leads to a feeling of helplessness. When people feel helpless, their stress levels increase, which further hinders functioning. Taking action – any action – can help give a sense of control and help reduce stress response.”
They advise that once a decision is made in that situation, act quickly and decisively.
“Failure to act quickly can result in you remaining in a position to be injured or killed during an active shooter event. It is important to know your surroundings when you find yourself in a dangerous situation. The faster we can get through the phases of denial and deliberation, the quicker we will reach the decisive moment and begin to take action that can save your life and the lives of those around you.”
“Freezing is almost always the wrong response. It leads to a feeling of helplessness. When people feel helpless, their stress levels increase, which further hinders functioning. Taking action - any action - can help give a sense of control and help reduce stress response.” —From the Avoid, Deny, Defend online resource for surviving active shooter situations
Officers from the Atlanta Police Department’s APEX unit were on hand at the local vigils for the victims of the June 12 shooting in Orlando.