Workshop prepares Elans for active shooter scenario

By Anastasia Landeros

Oct. 1, 2015: A 28-year-old student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon fatally shoots an assistant professor and eight students before committing suicide.

June 1, 2016: Two men are killed in an apparent murder-suicide inside an engineering building at the University of California, Los Angeles.

May 4, 2017: A 21-year-old male kills his 20-year-old female stalking victim in the Performance Hall Building at North Lake College in Irving, Texas before committing suicide in a locker room shower stall.

How prepared is our campus community in case of an active shooter situation?

At Monday’s Active Shooter/Behavioral Threat workshop, faculty, staff and students found out.

The workshop, presented by ELAC’s Fire Technology Coordinator Jason Hosea, was an interactive, one-hour presentation on what to do in case the campus becomes the setting of an active shooter situation.

An active shooter is a gunman or gunmen attempting to kill people in a confined but populated area.

The training focused on options faculty, staff and students have when they encounter a shooter on campus, and how to identify and defuse a violent situation.

Hosea said that knowing the difference between disruptive behaviors and threatening and violent behaviors can help with deciding how to de-escalate a potentially violent argument.

Disruptive behavior includes causing a disturbance with a raised voice, with or without the use of profanity, but the disrupter clearly has no intention to physically harm anyone.

Hosea said that when dealing with a disruptive person, whether it be a faculty member or a student, offering calm but concerned responses is the best way to defuse the situation.

He said that indicating a desire to listen, understand the problem and solve it rationally usually ends the disruption.

Threatening and violent behaviors, however, need to be handled delicately.

Hosea said that if someone witnesses or reasonably believes that a threatening situation can become a violent altercation then, they should immediately call 911 or the Sheriff’s Department on campus at (323) 265-8800.   Hosea said that being vigilant and learning how to identify the warning signs of problematic behaviors is a key component in preventing an active shooter on campus.

“We don’t want to stick our heads in the sand and say ‘Oh, that’s not gonna happen here,’ because I guarantee you in all those incidences (of active shooters on campus), I’m sure they felt the same way at their colleges.”

He said that anyone involved in an active shooter situation has three options: run, hide or fight.

Hosea highly encourages students to run and/or hide if it is safe to do so, but as a last resort, fight back against the attacker by any means necessary.

The training accompanied a short video from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on surviving an active shooter situation.

It offered situational examples of what to do during an emergency.

Is someone shooting in the library?

The Sheriff’s Department suggests hiding under a desk or out of sight since most active shooters aim for easy targets.

The video offers three items to remember for a fast plan of survival: concealment, cover, escape.

Find an object that can conceal you from the bullets and take cover behind it while trying to escape through emergency exits or windows.

Hosea said that an active shooter situation can last anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes, so taking notice of all surroundings is an important part of survival.

He suggests playing the “what-if” game when inside a building and take note of all exits, windows and empty rooms that can be used as a place to hide.

“The key to success is being prepared, and these classes help with that,” he said.

Most attendees to the emergency preparedness workshops are students, but he hopes that more faculty and staff attend future sessions.

“We’re kind of the leaders of the campus and we need to shepherd the students.”

Although there is an emergency preparedness coordinator for the district, he said a home-grown approach allows for our campus personnel to be ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping students, faculty and staff safe in an emergency.

The next active shooter training will be Sept. 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in F9-101.

A light lunch will be provided.

For more information, contact Jason Hodea at hoseaj@elac.edu or (323) 267-3703.

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