Civilian Active Shooter Training - The Power of WHY

July 30, 2019
Corporate heads and school leaders can debate if and how they should train their people to react to active shooters. Convincing them appropriate, reality-based training best falls squarely on explaining WHY. Turns out, reality convinces.

Corporate heads and school leaders can debate if and how they should train their people to react to active shooters. Convincing them appropriate, reality-based training best falls squarely on explaining WHY. Turns out, reality convinces.

Training budgets and calendars often fall victim to more pressing matters and make difficult the arguments that preparing for the worst is the best; that there are options during chaos.

We all sat through in-services, seminars, and schools where WHY we were there was completely missed. That same training could have been given in half the time, lacked purpose (other than to meet some regulatory requirement) or was just filler for a larger program. We were bored and left frustrated our time was wasted. The instructor ignored or glossed over the WHY, or didn’t believe in the training.

As law enforcement, you understand survival and perhaps fought for your life. Pretty convincing. There are people in companies and public agencies (like schools) who hesitate to teach anyone how to deal with a violent crisis. They find reality ugly. It’s why police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel exist. You’re not ugly, but you represent it. Use it.

As I mentioned in a previous piece, it’s the ugly side, the survival piece, the reality, most don’t deal with. Sadly, the critical “last stand” we know in law enforcement and the military, is giving up isn’t an option. You’ll recall from your recruit days, if you didn’t have the winning survival mindset, you learned quickly you need it.

Fear can be a great motivator, but paralyzes some; not an option in an active shooter incident. Buy-in from leaders requires understanding they and their people CAN survive. Not understanding WHY you are training is pointless. In the case of active shooters, personal survival and that of those around you should be motivation enough. Sometimes people need to be nudged into reality. You’re used to doing that, right?

Military, law enforcement, security professionals – all people who put their lives on the line – know surviving critical incidents comes down to erasing self-doubt. That means training. Reality-based training. No different for civilians.

What do you have to convince them? Plenty.

  1. There’s nothing boring about an active shooter. It dominates headlines; the stuff of movies; it fascinates.
  2. It’s real. Scares some, enthralls others, but ignites survival instinct. Build upon that.
  3. Civilians trained to react, and fight if necessary, aid police.
  4. Active shooter incidents typically last 10-15 minutes. Civilians may be the only aid before first responders get there. Pre-staged medical equipment and trained personnel within a scene have proven effective.
  5. Survivability increases with resistance, distraction, and fighting. Data backs this.
  6. Survivability decreases by cowering, hiding, and doing nothing. Data backs this too.
  7. At close range, with no option to flee, survivability increases with attempts to incapacitate the shooter. Again, data.
  8. Police frequently arrive AFTER the killing has stopped.
  9. Preparation, planning, and practicing for the worst work.
  10. Role playing and reality-based training is effective – “the body will go where the head has been before.”
  11. Coordinated, cooperative efforts between all sectors within communities work.
  12. Not all workplaces have security personnel – civilians must step in.
  13. There are no national workplace standards to combat violence.
  14. Reporting suspicious behavior, someone or something out of place works.
  15. In the middle of chaos, proper training kicks in.

We shouldn’t play on people’s fears. We SHOULD show them how to capitalize on abilities and resources. As trainers, you see the survival spirit emerge when people realize they CAN fight, realize there IS power in numbers, and learn they CAN make a difference in a crisis. You know determination and training go hand in hand – that ability to overcome crisis is birthed from having been there before... in reality-based training.

Convincing leaders of our communities’ private companies and public agencies begins with conversations about the realities other communities and individuals have faced and survived.

Law enforcement is suitably equipped to increase civilian survival of active shooter incidents and their aftermaths through reality-based training. It’s time to empower police to lead the battle to reduce the incidence of violence in our schools and workplaces. It’s also time we equip the public, en masse, to combat threats were they so confronted.

About the author

Hank Kula is a member of the L-Tron Training and Education Team and works as Law Enforcement Support. He is a retired police sergeant with 26 years in law enforcement. A certified crime scene investigator, crash reconstructionist, and former journalist, Hank works as a police instructor with recruits, veteran officers, and supervisors.  His instructional specialties are in crime scene management and investigation, photography, communications and public information. View more of Hank’s Articles here.

About the Author

Hank Kula | Law Enforcement Support

Sgt. Hank Kula (ret.) is a member of the L-Tron Training and Education Team and works as Law Enforcement Support. He is a retired police sergeant with 26 years in law enforcement. A certified crime scene investigator, crash reconstructionist, and former journalist, Hank works as a police instructor with recruits, veteran officers, and supervisors.  His instructional specialties are in crime scene management and investigation, photography, communications and public information.

View more of Hank’s Articles here.

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