The Training that actually Stuck

*** Warning this is about an active shooter training that I received for work. The Topic is graphic and visceral, but very important.***

This past week, we had some training that we had to go to for work. We have these training sessions a every few months, and we always grumble and groan about them. I am sure at least some of you have been in the mass training sessions that I am talking about. The ones that you have to go to every year or couple of years, you have to sit through them, and even the presenter does not REALLY want to be there.

This is normally how it goes. Everyone comes in and finds a seat, and the noise starts. Lots of phones being used to play Angry Birds or whatever. Then the boss gets up front and people mostly quiet down. The presenter gets up and starts talking and the noise slowly grows as the training goes on. You get a phone or two going off, and people quickly shutting it off, or walking out to answer it loudly.

This was not your typical training. Oh it started out like normal. But as soon as the trainer got up there, you knew something was different. First, he was a plain clothes police officer, gun and badge very clearly visible. Second he started off with a warning that went something like this, “This video is a re-enactment, but it is very realistic. There is no shame if you need to leave the room. When we first saw it, we weren’t told it was a re-enactment, and it had real effects on a lot of the people who saw it. It made us angry, sick to our stomachs, and just all around emotional. It is not because of the gore, because there really isn’t any. It is… well you will see.”

The video we watched was, well to say it was traumatic would be putting in mildly. I have not seen something that disturbed me so much since I visited Dachau as a child. (It is not the video I linked to below.) This was a black and white, supposed to be through the CCTV system, view of what it might look like during an active shooter incident. Briefly, it was 11+ minutes of two people coming in and rooting out every person in a building, taunting many of them and killing them all, before they eventually killed themselves. You can hear the gun fire, you can hear the screams and pleas for help and mercy, you can hear the 911 operator trying desperately to get the gunmen to stop as she reports what is happening to the police. There is no voice over, no musical track,there is nothing that tells you this was not real, there is only the printed warning at the beginning that warns of the disturbing nature of the video. It was one of those things that really sticks with you.

During the video the room was silent. Almost 600 people in the room and there was not a sound. At one point someone’s cell phone went off and rang like 10 times before the person even moved to try to silence it.

I am not going to link to this video for a couple of reasons. First, because I could not find it, and second because it is really disturbing, and I would rather not have anything that disturbing on my site.

Was the video effective? I don’t know. It got everyone’s attention, and if that was the desired effect, then yes it was effective. Will it help people be prepared? Probably not. I say that because in the end what I felt was a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, not one of being prepared. There was no way out for those people, and the two shooters were not interested in being reasoned with or reasonable at all, and there was nothing any of the victims could have done.

There was quiet for a long time after the video was over.

Afterwards we talked about the warning signs, what is known about the patterns for active shooters. We talked about some of the case studies of the most famous ones from the past 50 years. And then we talked about what you could do.

Obviously the best thing to do is see the warning signs and try to stop it before it happens, failing that there are some things you can do once a situation is going on.

Below I have linked to a video from the DHS. This one too, is a little graphic, but much less so than the first one we saw. I am not saying that it is the best training video, but it does seem to give some pretty solid, if not what I would think of as obvious advice. I say that because it seems like the three steps they suggest are pretty obvious. But in times of emergency some times you need the obvious advice.


Normally I am not a huge fan of things put out by the Department of Homeland Security, but they do have some pretty good information here. link to the DHS website with more information.

So, other than because It disturbed me, why did I want to post this? It is pretty simple. You know that feeling that things will never happen to you? You know how people talk about these incidences? The problem is that the number of them is growing. There were 83 of them last year. Not to be glib, but what you might find is that they are coming to a place near you.

If you have not seen an active shooter training, please take a moment to watch the video above. I highly encourage you to talk to your employer about getting an active shooter training in place in your workplace. They don’t even really have to do anything, there is a 90 minute training session right on the DHS’s website.

Last, it is a pretty scary topic it, but if you have kids I highly encourage you to talk about it in some way. More and more of these are happening in places where they might be. Maybe something as simple as tell them they should listen to the adults in the room when something like this happens.

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