DRILL PREPARES FOR THE WORST
Saratoga County deputies host active-shooter training
CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. >> Deputies from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office prepared people Tuesday for a situation they hope never happens.
An active-shooter drill at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library taught staff and patrons alike valuable lessons about how to survive such life-and-death incidents.
When a crisis occurs, people should know how to react because there’s no time to ask: “What now?”
“You’ve got to have a plan,” Deputy Ken Cooper said. “Don’t [wait] for an incident to happen.”
He and deputies Ryan Mahan and Austin Brooks are certified active-shooter instructors and have all taken the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) course. All three are school liaisons who teach similar lessons to kids throughout the county.
They were joined Tuesday by sheriff’s Investigator Courtney Salaway,
This marks the second time an active-shooter drill has been held at Clif-
"The best way to survive an active-shooter event is to prepare for one." — Deputy Ken Cooper
ton Park-Halfmoon Public Library.
On Monday evening, about three dozen people attended an hour-long training session. Tuesday’s drill gave people an opportunity to put those lessons into practice.
First, at any public venue, officials said people should know where the exits are. In short, be aware of the surroundings.
“It doesn’t have to be an active-shooter event,” Cooper said. “It could be a fire.”
If something does happen, officials said try to flee the scene and seek cover in a tree line or behind another building.
If this isn’t possible, officials said people should lock themselves inside a room, or barricade it with chairs and tables if it can’t be locked. Once inside, don’t hide in a corner. Stay near the door. This way, if an intruder tries to break in, people inside can at least try to confront the attacker instead of being trapped helplessly in a corner.
“That’s the last resort,” Cooper said.
Similar training programs have been held at area medical facilities and churches. Plans call for having one soon, just for staff, at Corinth High School.
“It’s very important that we did this,” library employee Jennifer Staude said. “It brings to people’s attention what they should do if there is an active shooter. It could happen anyplace.”
Some employees, unable to reach an exit or locked room, concealed themselves beneath desks and behind chairs.
“It’s invaluable and very important for people to get this kind of education in this day and age,” said library Director Alexandra Gutelius.
After heading upstairs, Deputy Brooks went from room to room, making sure each door was locked. Once people get inside, they shouldn’t leave under any circumstances until police come to get them out, he said.
“If someone slides identification under the door that says Officer Brooks, don’t open it because he might have taken it from me,” Brooks said.
Upon entering an unlocked room, he announced himself as a police officer to prevent a potential attack from someone inside.
After the drill, library staff and patrons gathered near the circulation desk for a brief critique to discuss how things went.
Brooks said he noticed a couple of people reach for personal belongings before starting to flee the scene or heading for cover. This is a mistake because it could take precious seconds that make the difference between life and death, he said.
“Get out or get secured,” Brooks said.
Cooper pointed out how quiet the library was once the drill began. The lesson is that people should silence their cell phones as soon as possible to keep from giving away their location.
“You want people to leave the training empowered and capable of surviving,” he said. “The best way to survive an activeshooter event is to prepare for one.”
Deputy Austin Brooks checks to see if an upstairs room is secured during an active-shooter drill at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library on Tuesday.
Library Director Alexandra Gutelius, left, and Deputy Austin Brooks, right, discuss safety procedures during a Tuesday drill.
Deputy Ken Cooper, right, critiques an active-shooter drill with staff and patrons at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library on Tuesday.