On Wednesday, Chamber Staff, business leaders, and San Antonio Police met at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for a workshop on public safety during the event of an active shooting. The workshop drew attendees of all stripes, who sought reliable information in the event of the unthinkable.
The event originated in the wake of tragedy. After the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, on August 3 and 4 respectively, Chief of Police William McManus contacted Chamber President & CEO Richard Perez about taking the opportunity to educate the business community on what to do in such events, as more than half of all mass shootings occur in businesses.
“We want you to be prepared and feel confident, no matter the situation that arises,” Perez said.
According to the presentation, the average law enforcement response time to an active shooter is 3 minutes, which can feel like a lifetime in the moment. Most people caught in a shooting follow three stages: Denial, deliberation, and decisive moment. Initially, most people will be in denial that the act is occurring, with trying to justify the loud noises as firecrackers or horseplay. Once the situation is fully realized, the deliberation begins. Exits are assessed and methods of survival are chosen. Lastly, a decisive moment comes, whether that is to escape, to confront the gunman, to play dead, to save others, etc.
Active shooter training advises people to avoid, deny, defend, just as fire safety teaches stop, drop, and roll. For avoid, if you can leave immediately or avoid the act entirely, this is the most preferable and first course most should take. If this fails, denying the gunman means hiding, barricading, or obstructing access to wherever you are finding safety. Playing dead is not advised, because it’s ineffective and leaves you vulnerable to a second attack. If this fails, the last course is to defend, which may include assaulting the gunman. Licensed handgun carriers are advised to incorporate their firearm in the defend stage only if their attempts to avoid and deny have failed. Armed civilians are not advised to seek out the gunman. This is best left to law enforcement.
Once police arrive, potential victims are asked to comply with whatever law enforcement asks. This is for safety reasons, as police officers don’t always know who the suspect is or who is injured.
No one ever wants to believe it can happen to them, but it’s absolutely necessary to have the information publicly available in the event that it does occur. Your Chamber and the San Antonio Police Department hope education and public awareness can help turn the tide on appalling violence and needless deaths.
“SAPD is always ready to partner with the SA Chamber to provide information and training to help keep our citizens safe and well informed,” McManus said.