In an active attack event, a gap of time exists between the attack’s beginning and the moment law enforcement arrives.
Those mere minutes can feel like much longer to those on scene. A person’s actions during that time become a matter of life or death.
Glynn County Schools Police hosted an active shooter training event Monday evening in Brunswick High School’s auditorium. Senior Inspector Charlie Moore, who is retired from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, led the training and taught attendees how to be empowered during an active attack, particularly before police arrive.
Moore used curriculum developed by Texas State University to explain how the Civilian Response to Active Shooter (CRASE) training ties in with Glynn County Schools safety response protocols.
“It’s to give you an idea of what to do between when the event begins, heaven forbid, and when the police show up,” Moore said. “There’s a gap of time when we can empower ourselves and our students and our loved ones to do something.”
From 2000 to 2016, there have been 242 active shooter incidents in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Fifty percent of incidents ended before the police arrived.
More than 50 percent of attacks take place in a place of commerce buildings, such as businesses or malls. About 30 percent have taken place in schools.
“Most people think these things only happen in schools because that really hits us emotionally, to have children involved,” Moore said.
Active shooting incidents, including in schools, have been on the rise in the last several years, though.
“Can anyone here tell me the last school fire where anyone was hurt or killed in the United States?” Moore asked. “… And we practice those drills religiously, right? … Everyone here can raise their hand and name one school shooting. Probably more.”
The average police response time in the United States is three minutes, and it’s in those three minutes that a person can do something to survive and help others.
“It’s got to be you folks to empower us as a community to do something during those three minutes,” Moore said.
The three stages of disaster response are denial — such as initially explaining that gunshot sounds must really be fireworks — then deliberation and finally a decisive moment.
Stress changes the way the brain reacts, Moore said, and as the heart rate goes up, cognitive abilities don’t function as well.
When deliberating, Moore told the audience they need to learn how to calm themselves and shift their emotions away from panic and instead use the adrenaline to focus.
“I’ve got to use all the biochemistry going on in my body to make a proper decision,” he said.
Glynn County Schools Police Chief Rod Ellis said it’s best to be alert, to know where a room’s exits are located and to think about the way you’ll respond to an emergency situation.
“I’m not here to spread fear, but next time you go to the movie theater, next time you go anywhere, be thinking to yourself — if this happens, what would I do?” Ellis said. “… That situational awareness and that mental preparation is so key to surviving an event like this.”
In the midst of an active attack, playing dead is not an option, Moore said, and hiding and hoping is not a plan.
Instead, it’s best to have a plan that goes beyond simply concealing oneself, he said.
There’s also a language of empowerment that Moore taught the attendees.
“All of us have heard ‘Run, hide, fight.’ Some of us can sing it,” he said. “… How many of you aren’t very good at running?”
Instead, the better language would be to “avoid, deny and defend,” he said.
He pointed out the exits in the room and noted that most are not designed to keep an attacker out.
“How are we going to stop that from opening,” he asked, pointing the audience’s attention to the doors in the back of the room. “… These rooms are built, let’s not kid each other, for fire code and to let people out … But again, as I mentioned to you, nobody can tell me the last school fire in the United States.”