I recently went through ALICE training at work. Surprisingly it was my very first time getting active shooter training. The main takeaway was to get the hell out of the building.
My office has had some experience with gun violence. It’s not in the best of neighborhoods. Two years ago there was a shooting outside the back of the building. Our organization has also received threats where the entire office was evacuated.
I even have a plan if a gunman enters the building – there’s a door that locks that blocks off access to my desk. I would lock the door, hide under my desk, and call 911. That’s my plan if I can’t escape. I thought about this well before the training.
The training had some interesting ways to distract a shooter but I think if I was put in the situation I would freeze and be absolutely no help. The instructor kept saying “engage with the shooter”. When put in that situation, who would have the balls to do that?
Usually, during the training, they do live simulations, but my employer chose not to do that. Apparently, it’s pretty intense and even traumatic. The instructor said there was a woman at another local organization who was so traumatized by the simulations that she had to take two weeks off of work.
We listened to 911 tapes from Columbine High School. It was extremely difficult to hear. I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened and it changed everything.
I’ve cried over the fact that my six-year-old has to do active shooter drills at school. She doesn’t know what it’s for. The night after my training I asked my daughter what she thought about lockdown drills at school. She asked, “is that when we huddle together?” I said yes and asked her why she has to do that. She said, “It’s for practice like a fire drill.” That’s all she knows — it’s “practice”. She doesn’t know any different. I left it at that.
I remember feeling scared during tornado drills at school. Growing up in the Midwest I damn well knew what a tornado was. I can’t imagine being told to hide when you don’t really know the reason. That has to be frightening and confusing.
They tell students to hide but in Florida, the shooter pulled the fire alarm. What would you do?
There was a shooting at our local high school during a football game a couple months ago — the school my daughter will be going to. But people said it was gang-related — not random — as if that’s supposed to make me feel better about it. No one died but a couple people were wounded.
I do think about these situations – especially at work or out in public – but sometimes it seems like mass shootings happen so frequently that an event can be easily forgotten. Then it happens again. And again. In a way, you become desensitized to it. Even so, it’s still on my mind. Is it on yours?
Do you guys think about these situations often? Do you ever go somewhere and make a plan in your head of where you would go and what you would do? Do you avoid crowded places?
Is it even possible to prepare for an active shooter situation? Will the scenarios I play in my head ever be useful? Or is it causing unnecessary anxiety?