Active shooter training teaches tools for survival
STAFF WRITER JESSUP — Acting Moosic police Sgt. James Decker stood in the Lackawanna County 911 center Tuesday night and read information from several slides on active shooter situations across the country.
A movie theater in Colorado. A college campus in Virginia. A concert in Nevada. A church in Texas. A supervisors meeting in Ross Twp., Monroe County. A grocery store in Eaton Twp., Wyoming County.
“It can happen anywhere,” Decker said. “It can happen in your backyard. It can happen someplace tomorrow.”
Decker, commander of the Lackawanna County SWAT Team, was one of the speakers at a seminar Tuesday meant to educate the public on what to do should the unthinkable happen. County officials decided to hold active shooter training for the public in light of recent mass shootings nationwide, Lackawanna County Emergency Services Director David Hahn said. About 20 people attended Tuesday’s seminar.
Reaction to an active shooter can be boiled down to three responses: avoid, deny and defend, Decker said.
The best course of action is always to avoid the shooter by getting away from them, Decker said. People should be aware of primary exits, get out and call 911 only when they are in a safe place to do so, he said.
Should someone not be able to leave, the next course of action should be to deny the shooter easy access to the
room you’re in by locking the door and barricading it with objects, the heavier the better, Decker said. People should also turn out the lights, silence their phones, anything to make the shooter think no one is inside, he said.
Only as a last resort should people physically confront a shooter and defend themselves, Decker said.
When police arrive on scene, people should obey their commands and keep their hands up, Decker said.
Officers also spoke about measures the public can take to prevent an active shooting situation, namely by speaking up if someone is showing indicators of violent behavior. Most active shooters have some connection to the location and the people where the shooting takes place, Decker said.
“If you know somebody is off or you have an inkling … that somebody is not right and someone is ripe for being a person who commits this act of violence, you have to say something,” Scranton police Sgt. Thomas Carroll said. “Why wait until you’re reacting to it when you can do it up front?”
The county will hold a similar seminar at the 911 center in the spring, Hahn said. The one held Tuesday night will be available on the Electric City Television YouTube channel by this morning and will also be available on the county website. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5363; @ClaytonOver on Twitter
‘It can happen anywhere. It can happen in your backyard. It can happen someplace tomorrow.’ James Decker Acting Moosic police sergeant
Lackawanna County SWAT Team Commander James Decker speaks during a public active shooter training seminar Tuesday at the Lackawanna County 911 center.