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Sounds hard just typing out the words active shooter. It’s sad to think where this has taken us, but denial does not make it go away.
The Frio County Sheriff’s Department sponsored Active Shooter Training last week here in Pearsall for local law enforcement, school personnel, daycare operators and some elected officials. The event was held for two days at Pearsall High School. Day one was training with local law enforcement, where they did numerous actual drills to simulate live scenarios. The sheriff’s office, Pearsall Police Department, PISD School Resource Officers and Frio County Constables all participated and worked together in the training.
On the second day, civilians attended and participated as actors in the staged events. The trainers were professional, certified, mostly prior-military and current law enforcement personnel. Tuesday morning’s lecture was on preparedness and basic first aid training. During the afternoon, civilians and local law enforcement participated in three separate training drills.
The purpose of this article is two-fold, know that your local law enforcement is taking this seriously and training to do everything within their power to protect citizens. I saw this in the effort and determination with which I witnessed them train. Secondly, it has value for us, citizens to be aware and recognize there are threats out there. Here are some highlights from the lecture: We have a tendency to believe nothing bad is going to happen to us.
In any tragic event, the first response is typically, this can’t be happening and most specifically not to me. The realization that bad things sometimes do happen is important in dictating how we actually live with our situational awareness. Situational awareness is always being aware of your surroundings, making mental notes of your exits, primary and secondary. If something or someone stands out as not right, don’t ignore it or pass it off, be situationally aware, pay attention to what’s going on around you. In a crisis of this nature, trainers originally taught to run, hide, fight; all in that order. Now that has been replaced with avoid, deny, defend. Trainers noted in the first stage, avoid, following the crowd can be dangerous. Taken by surprise, a normal response is to scream and run. If you don’t know what is happening and you join suit with the crowd and add your screams and fleet feet to the stampede, that can be dangerous and contagious to others. Keep a cool head, situational awareness plays a role in not being taken by surprise and that plays a role in how you respond. Try not to let fear drive your reaction. Practice. As morbid as this may sound, but when you are in public, think what would I do here if, x,y,z happens! Walk through your mind how you would responds and move your family to safety.
The deny section, is just that, deny the criminal the ability to make you a victim. Time is critical, the more time you can buy for yourself, the more time you deny the bad guy. Time is not on the bad guys side, recent case excluded, the danger element of these events typically don’t last long. The final stage is to defend, as the instructors taught, as a last ditch effort you need to understand there is no negotiating with those intent on evil and destruction. Defend your life and those with you, as hard as it may seem, but as Americans and especially Texans, it has been our nature to not go down without a fight, by whatever means available.
I want to acknowledge the sensitivity of this topic, I know there are citizens and friends in our region that are hurting as a result of senseless, flat-out evil acts, and my heart goes out to them. Evil has been around almost from the beginning as referenced in the story of Cain and Abel. Being prepared, going through the mental training and focus on staying cool-headed, knowing the impetus behind avoid, deny, defend, no doubt can play a role in helping overcome a crisis. I appreciate Frio County and the sheriff’s office for putting this training on.
On another note, I’m grateful and thankful for the rain last week, thank you Lord.
God Bless the City of Pearsall, the County of Frio, the State of Texas, the United States of America and You.
Ben T. Briscoe
Mayor of Pearsall