SIDNEY – Educating local people of a deadly topic that could possibly provide ways to save their lives if ever encountered with an active shooter situation continued here Monday when a police officer explained many survival choices.
More than 60 people gathered at Connection Point Church for a presentation by Sidney Police Community Resource Officer Mike McRill. His message was mostly to “change the mindset” of how to react when an active shooter intrudes a public place.
“I’m sorry we are gathered here tonight. I’m sorry we have to talk about this situation,” McRill first stated referring to the realities of today’s world. His point was “what to do” if ever faced with a situation such as Columbine, Virginia Tech and San Bernardino, regarding school and workplace shootings.
McRill spoke of living in an authority-driven society. To follow the rules students and employees are told. He noted schools having fire drills and workplaces having safety rules for workers to follow. Unfortunately, people tend to follow such orders when faced with such a dire situation.
He told of students hiding under desks when they should to looking for ways to flee or defend themselves. Workers afraid to use a company computer to break a window as an escape route have been documented. These people need to “have permission” to break the rules in order to survive.
He said the shooter has already made a decision to take lives, no matter what. The question comes down to how people are going to react in that situation.
“We have to change that mindset in order to survive.”
Instincts already in place
McRill said those instincts already exist in people. He said most people are kind, gentle, well meaning people that would never think of harming anyone. However…
“What if I intended to cause deadly harm to your child? How much of a fighter would you be then? All I’m telling saying is to have that same reaction when your own life is being threatened.”
McRill, a local SWAT team member, explained the average response time for police is 5 to 6 minutes after receiving a 911 call. It could take the SWAT team up to 45 minutes to dress and assemble before arriving on the scene to confront a shooter.
“We (law enforcement) aren’t going to save you. I can never promise you a zero body count, but with this information we can minimize that body count before we arrive.”
At Columbine (April 20, 1999), police surrounded the school and waited for SWAT. They did what they were trained to do, McRill said. The students were trained to hide under their desks instead of trying to get away. The shooters were in the library seven and a half minutes killing 10 people before they moved on.
In most cases, shooters know they have a short time (usually 8 minutes) before they encounter law enforcement. Options are varied on how to react, but choosing to react was most important.
Run-Hide-Fight, do something
McRill spoke of the Run-Hide-Fight way of thinking, if someone is caught in a shooting scenario. The first idea is to run away from the shooter. Typically the shooters are looking for “high body counts” and the victim choice is random.
He said to leave belongings behind, help others escape and prevent people from entering the building. If individuals or groups are frozen by fear and unable to move, there is no choice but to continue your escape on your own. Exiting through windows noting that a second story jump may cause a bodily injury, but it’s less harmful than a gunshot.
If unable to getaway, McRill said to hide. Not only to be concealed but also try for something a bullet may not penetrate. They told of building barricades in front of doors, tying door knobs and overhead door hinges to prevent opening, overturn filing cabinets, blocking pathways with microwave ovens.
McRill offered advice for those with Concealed Carry Weapons permits and are armed.
“Remember that we (police officers) are not going to know you. We are going to be looking for someone with a gun. If you are the one we see, we will do what we need to eliminate the threat,” McRill said.
He added, once officers enter the area, permit holders should lay their gun down and keep their hands visible. They will be handcuffed and taken into custody. McRill said not to resist as the situation will be fully determined in short order.
McRill and others are continuing to meet with businesses, schools, government office employees and other organizations to provide an educational plan for such an ordeal.
For more information, contact McRill by calling 937-498-8722 or by email at [email protected]
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.