As the threat from active shooter situations become more prevalent in our society, community-based safety organizations are making greater efforts to be prepared. Trent Atkins, Emergency Management Director for Lansing Board of Water and Light, and a regional group of public and private partners, saw a need for community cooperation to limit the impact from active shooter events. Together, with the help of Scott Martzke, the Emergency Management Program Coordinator for the Michigan Army National Guard, the BWL hosted a tabletop exercise Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, at the Michigan National Guard headquarters in Lansing, Mich., where agencies from the metro Lansing area joined together to further refine or develop their active shooter plans.
“This is really all about building community resilience during the emergency. Every event, small or large scale impacts the entire community. We react and say ‘we should’ve planned, we should’ve prepared,’ so if we develop those plans and that resilience ahead of time, we can be much more efficient with our response,” said Atkins. “These events are never going to stop but how we respond to them can change. Preparedness makes all the difference in the world and that’s why we are here today.”
Organizations included the Lansing Fire Department, Department of Health and Human Services, East Lansing Police, Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Capital Area Transportation Authority, Jackson National Life, Sparrow Hospital, American Red Cross, General Motors, and many more. The representatives talked through scenarios that have actually happened in the past, and how their offices would respond to that scenario.
“Everyone is taking a more positive posture with active shooter training. Don’t be a victim. The National Guard is a community-based organization and we are proud to be a part of helping these organizations develop plans for the more positive outcome,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Stone, assistant Adjutant General for installations for the Michigan National Guard.
Sgt. First Class Scott Watkins, Michigan National Guard, Pre-Mobilization and Training Assistance Team, Non- Commissioned Officer in Charge ( NCOIC) provides pointers about active shooter situations to members of over 100 private and public sector partners, to training held by The Lansing Board of Water and Light, Lansing, Mich., at joint Forces Headquarters, Michigan National Guard, 12 Feb 2016. The training focuses on Active Shooter scenarios and how to create a better prepared community for an active shooter incident. (Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. First Class Helen Miller/Released)
Based on lessons learned from past active shooter events, organizations are taking a new approach at response. The ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ response typically allows the shooter to maximize damage and capabilities. Run only works if the person is in a completely different location than the shooter, typically out of sight where distance can be maximized. If running is not possible, using the Hide/Barricade step and preparing to Fight shifts the active shooter paradigm, which can potentially end an active shooter event in half the time or less. The average event lasts approximately five minutes.
“Fight is proven to change the mindset of the shooter. They don’t expect resistance. So there are fewer casualties and a more positive outcome. It also terminates the event more quickly,” said Martzke.
The Michigan Army National Guard Sustainment Training Branch gave a demonstration and showed videos on how the ‘Run, Hide, Fight’ scenario can play out. In recent months the STB has trained all full-time Michigan Army National Guard members at many locations on active shooter training.
“It’s an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about but we have to deal with it now, it’s not going to go away,” said Staff Sgt. Nikolas Discher, a trainer with the STB.