By Adam Smith
On Feb. 5 at the Calvary Baptist Church in San Marcos, the Hays County Sheriff’s Department gave a presentation on civilian response to active shooter events. The presentation, called CRASE, was created in response to recent mass shootings across the country.
Public Information Officer Dennis Gutierrez said the average law enforcement response time for an active shooter scenario is only around three minutes, but they want to teach people how to defend themselves until help arrives. According to Gutierrez, members of the community reached out to them for help to save lives.
“We already had a presentation that was put together by ALERRT, so we had a presentation already,” said Gutierrez. “So, they started teaching some of us to be the trainers in order to go out there and teach this presentation. All of these meetings were precipitated from churches and businesses calling us.”
Lieutenant David Burns gave the presentation. The thrust of the active shooter strategy is a three-pronged response called ADD: Avoid, Deny and Defend. To avoid means to find your exits, get away and call 911. If this is not possible, you should deny the shooter by locking and barricading doors and turning off the lights. If these strategies fail, you should defend by doing whatever you can to disarm the shooter.
Burns referenced a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting and emphasized that hiding in place or playing dead are not good survival tactics.
“The biggest problem with hiding is, what is your recourse if you are found?” said Burns. “There’s not a whole lot. She even tried to play dead. She’s hiding as a dead person and she was shot numerous times.”
Burns said it is important for citizens to be prepared in these scenarios because they are most often the first line of defense.
“Who are the first responders to this act? You are. You’re the first responders to any disaster,” said Burns. “San Marcos has had floods. If you were affected by those things, I guarantee you had a neighbor or somebody other than a fireman or police officer or EMS show up to help you before they ever got there.”
San Marcan Tony Sorensen attended the presentation because his church congregation knew he had prior law enforcement experience and they wanted him to look into strategies to deal with a possible mass shooting.
“This is good information,” said Sorensen. “I think one of the biggest things is to act. That’s the most important thing you can do when something happens. It’s to not just lay down and die but to get up and fight.”
Featured image by Adam Smith.