Updated: Friday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m. EST with information from West Bloomfield Schools
Run, hide or fight.
Those three actions may save your life in an active shooter situation similar to December’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, according to Oakland County Homeland Division officials.
About 85 Oakland County school administrators, teachers and school staff focused on the kind decisions one may have to make in an active shooter situation during a 2 1/2 hour training session at the Executive Office Building in Waterford Thursday.
The important takeaway—react quickly.
Teachers were told to have an evacuation plan prepared and as a first action to flee a bad situation, bringing their students with them, but only if it’s safe to do so. If it is not safe, the next step is to hide, preferably behind something that is made of metal, concrete or block. And, if all else fails, as a last resort, fight.
“If you can’t escape or run, then throw a table, swing a purse, throw a fire extinguisher,” said Homeland Security Specialist Michael Loper. “Commit 110 percent with anything you can get your hands on.”
Statistics show 43 percent of active shooters will take their own life. They come prepared to die, Loper said, not prepared to fight.
Teachers were also told what to expect and how to react to first responders:
- Avoid pointing, screaming, yelling.
- Do not ask officers for help or directions.
- Evacuate with hands up and fingers open. Officers arriving are in a high stress situation—they are in hunter mode—and even a cellphone in your hand can look like a weapon, officials said.
In addition to helping school districts prepare an action plan, Homeland Security is also working with law enforcement across the county on a unified response plan, Loper said.
“If an event happened at Royal Oak High School, and Berkley and Troy police were called in to help, we want everyone to be on the same page, regardless of what department they belong to,” said Loper.
"We’re a consortium. We’re not little kingdoms anymore,” as one official put it.
West Bloomfield High School Principal Tom Shelton, who district officials said attended the first workshop yesterday along with Assistant Principal Pat Watson and Dean of Discipline and Attendance Guy Wardell, said that the program is part of ongoing efforts by administrators to update security plans.
"Our team walked away feeling a sense of urgency to re-evaluate our school safety plan, although I feel that we are further ahead than many as we are always reviewing how we can improve on what we do," Shelton said. "I was impressed with the level of coordination between the different law enforcement agencies from many local jurisdictions that were facilitating."