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Citizens urged to ‘run, hide or fight’
Session held to prepare public for a mass violence attack
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MONROE — Linda Gissing, a former educator who now works the front end of a local grocery store,  wanted to know more about how she could help if an active shooter or other violence happened on her watch.

So she joined about a dozen other citizens May 15 as the Green County Sheriff’s Office once again presented the highly respected national curriculum known as CRASE — or Citizen Response to Active Shooter Events — training to the community. 

In the wake of the much-publicized active shooter scare in Mount Horeb earlier this month, the training seemed especially relevant as it provided a way to at least understand such incidents and the ways in which people can help themselves and others stay alive if the unthinkable happens.

“I just wanted to be able to help myself and help out any customers in the store,” said Gissing, who lives in Monroe. “There are ways to get yourself and others out of a situation to safety.”

The presenter for the session, held at the Government Services building, was Green County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron King.

“I think these types of events are very important for us to do for the community,” King said. “And people just need to know how to react in those situations.”

King reviewed several mass attack events — the perpetrators can use more than just a gun — to provide a sense of what made a difference in the lives of victims based on data of what they did immediately following the realization of a violent threat.

Participants were encouraged to “run, hide or fight” and be prepared to do so in just about any public place. King said half of all mass attacks have occurred at businesses, while 15 percent involved an attack on a school.

“Schools aren’t the most common location but they are the most publicized,” said King. 

People confronted with the reality of gunfire or other attack typically waste too much time engaging in denial and deliberation before coming up with a response. And that is due to the physical and mental stress involved with suddenly having to fight for your life. But it starts with recognizing the sounds of trouble.

“Repeated loud bangs are most likely to be gunfire,” said King, who also played the ominous recorded sounds of shots ringing out in succession for the group. “We are going to have to decide how to defend ourselves.”

By being ready ahead of time, King said organizations and businesses he works with are helping to decrease the denial and deliberation time before action is taken. The first option is he said: Run and hide. The second option is to deny access to a room or group of people by using any means available — a chair, for example, or a bookcase to block a door. A locked door can and has discouraged attackers from entering a given room, moving on to an unlocked door instead. 

People also need to know the difference between mere concealment from an attacker versus actual cover from gunfire or other type of violence.

 Lastly, citizens need to be prepared to fight off the attacker if it comes to that.

“You have a right to defend yourself,” King said. “We are living in a world where it can now happen anywhere — and does.”

King also talked about the police response to mass attacks and how to behave and interact with law enforcement rushing to help. Police often show up in mere minutes, King said, with the response time to the Mount Horeb incident estimated to be less than three minutes.

On the day of that perceived attack — where the gunman was killed holding a realistic looking pellet rifle — King traveled to Mount Horeb with scores of first responders to help organize the scene and reunite children with parents, a process that took many long hours.

“It was organized chaos up there,” King said. “You are trying to keep the parents at bay but you have to return the kids to them in an organized way.”

The training was developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training organization (ALERRT) made up of representatives from the Texas State University, the San Marcos Police Department, and the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. Since it began in 2002, the ALERRT organization has become a national leader in civilian response to active shooter events training, according to officials.

For more information on scheduling a mass attack training session for a church, business, or other organization, contact King at the sheriff’s office, at 608-328-9400.