Residents Learn Strategies for Surviving an Active Shooter
(Drew Saunders, Jan. 4, 2020)
Southfield, MI – Whether it’s a gunman in a house of worship, an increasingly common school shooting, or a well-planned attack in a theater or public space, the reality of American life is that these crimes can happen anywhere, to anyone.
The Southfield Community Coalition and City of Southfield moved to get ahead of this possibility with a Community Response to Active Shooter Events Safety Presentation in December.
Police Chief Elvin Barren invited Detective Brian Fountain of the Detroit Police Department to share how citizens can defend themselves and save lives in the few minutes it takes for the police to arrive.
“It is vital that you find some place to hide,” Fountain said. “Find a room where you can shut the door, shut out the light because we’re going to be there in a few minutes. The shooter knows it.”
Active shooters usually conduct well planned attacks, which usually only last a matter of minutes. Most mass shooters know that they don’t have much time before the police show up to stop them, according to Fountain. He believes that it’s often a drive to be famous that motivates mass shooters.
In order to survive, things as simple as looking behind you when you move, staying quiet, and working together, can get lost in the confusion of the situation. That’s why trainings such as the one in Southfield can make a life or death difference.
Fountain told residents to avoid running down long hallways or in open spaces.
Instead, he said, barricade yourself in a room, turn off the lights, stay away from windows, and use whatever is available to block the door. If the door cannot be secured, he said the key is not to hide in a corner, but on either side of the door, to be able to surprise the shooter.
“These incidents are becoming more and more frequent. And it’s important for us to show the community ways to defend themselves, and teach a model called ‘hide, run, fight,’” Barren said
He explained that if the worst happens, the public will be safer if they know how to avoid a dangerous person, barricade themselves if they can’t escape, and how to help someone if they are hurt.
Not all accidents involve active shooters, however. And residents were also treated to training on how to help in other emergency situations.
Southfield Fire Captain Melissa Medici shared how citizens can respond to traffic accidents, collisions and other non-malicious emergencies.
If someone is seriously injured, Medici said to keep them warm, keep them breathing, keep them engaged and be honest about their situation; and above all, to be as prepared as possible to help when you can.
“You’re only as good as your last practice,” Medici said. Residents can also help by always calling 911 and learning to use CPR and tourniquets correctly
This event was set up by Tony Martin, a member of the planning commission, who also serves as the president of the Southfield Community Coalition, as well as on an a board of housing and condominium associations in the city. Martin said he is looking forward to hosting another presentation, which is penciled in for some time next spring.
“I am on the city planning commission and we had active shooter training. I know that the city council and other groups have had active shooter training. I thought ‘that’s something that the citizens need to know.’ Especially with the way things are going in the world today,” Martin said, so he contacted Chief Barren and others to organize the event.
Around 50 people attended the December presentation.