Photo courtesy of AP Images. An armed instructor, left, with Texas State University- San Marcos Active Shooter Training confronts Richland County school resource officers April 10, 2009, in Columbia, S.C.
“Do not duck and cover. Never do this anymore.” said COD Public Safety Officer Renan Avanzini, “in these times, that strategy will not save your life.”
Avanzini and Public Safety Officer Efren Rodriguez taught for a full hour on how to respond to an active shooter situation to students during a public speaking class in the communications building on the Palm Desert campus.
Professor Whitney Shaw and her students experienced a serious, intense, and educating lecture from these two officers. They delivered valuable information on what to do when you encounter an active shooter in our campus.
“We usually have over 350 -370 school shootings per year,” said Avanzini, “the ones that we do not hear about publicly is because the police have stopped the shooter from succeeding. The numbers have increased, and we are not a hundred percent safe anymore.”
Avanzini explained how there is a high percentage of someone on our campus with malicious intentions and that a shooter can be anyone in our class, someone in our faculty, staff or someone we know.
Avanzini repeated during his presentation that the duck and cover method is useless in an active shooter scenario. He said being still and not doing anything helps the shooter succeed. “What’s the purpose of a shooter? The only thing he wants to do is kill you. Being still is the worst thing you can do,” said Avanzini.
The officers said students need to evacuate and run away from campus. Being far away from campus is the best thing students and faculty staff can do. “Trying to run to your car is not a good idea,” Rodriguez said, “what if there is a second shooter in the parking lot waiting for students to run to their cars? The best thing is to get far away from campus.”
The training program being taught is ALICE and its goal is to educate not just college students but everyone on what to do in the event of an active shooter. ALICE was created by former law enforcement officer Greg Crane after the Columbine shooting of 1999.
The program’s goal is to give people the necessary skills to survive in an active shooter situations and every letter on ALICE is meant represent those skills.
“Everyone is easily distracted on their cellphones that you do not notice your surroundings. The “A” stands to be more alert. If you see someone in suspicious behavior in public or even wearing something that does not make sense, report it,” said Avanzini.
“L” means lock-down. If you are in your class and the shooter is trying to get inside, students need to work together and use tables, chairs, anything to keep the door locked. The officers explain if you are in a two-story building, your best option is to jump off. “You will break a leg, it will hurt, but you will be alive,” said Avanzini.
The “I” stands for inform. The officers said it is important for students, faculty and staff to not stay silent. People must speak out to report anything regarding suspicious behavior.
The “C” stands to counter. Probably the bravest and most challenging action to take is to counter the shooter and fight back. The officers said to throw your cell phone, a water bottle, anything that is around you to make the shooter flinch and distract, you will have a better chance of surviving. If you have experience with a weapon or have athletic abilities to stop the shooter, you have a high chance of saving yourself and your classmates.
“Only two people will react and the rest will freeze; this is a normal reaction but those who do not freeze need to lead,” said Avanzini.
“E” stands for evacuate. The officers seriously explained how evacuating far from campus again, is the best thing anyone can do but know not many will survive. It’s a tragic truth the officers nailed in their lecture that many will not live, and we have to take action on this crisis.
College of the Desert is offering a four-hour class training on what to do when you encounter an active shooter. To sign up for survival training, email Jill Probs, the administrative assistant for the Public Safety Department and Emergency Preparedness, at email@example.com or call 760-776-7250.