PRESTONSBURG – Faculty at Big Sandy Community and Technical College were prepared for the worst last Friday during an Active Shooter training session held on campus.
Officials from the Kentucky State Police and Floyd County Sheriff’s department, as well as Prestonsburg Fire, EMS and Transtar Ambulance were all brought together as part of a program to help prepare faculty and staff in the event of the worst; an active shooter on campus.
According to federal law, all universities and places of public education are gun-free-zones which makes them targets of opportunity to a would-be shooter looking to cause the most destruction and loss of life without encountering armed resistance.
The Kentucky State Police active shooter program, which included several scenarios was intentionally jarring and left more than one participant a little shaken. Smoke filled rooms and the sounds of a real semi-automatic assault rifle being fired in the hallways lent to the realism.
“The program is designed to let them basically know where they’re at; how they stand. No one knows exactly how they are going to react. If you have never been exposed to any type of stimulus,” said Sgt. Ronald Peppi.
Each university has their own protocols and procedures, and Peppi says that this program is not about changing those standards, but rather to create a stimulus and simulated anxiety which is supposed to get faculty and staff thinking about how they would react, and what sort of plans each of them, individually, needs to make for themselves.
“We’re giving this so that they can think about how they would react in these simulated situations.”
BSCTC staff members and guests from other universities went through several scenarios that put them in a position where they need to think about how they would react, and interpret what is happening under duress. Scenarios ranged from briefing a 911 operator to wrestling a would-be attacker to the ground and subduing them.
In the event of an active shooter, when police arrive they are coming straight in, says Peppi, adding that history has proved that perpetrators who engage in this type of violence will not stop killing until they are stopped, or stop themselves. Because of this, part of the program is designed to teach faculty and staff how to interact with police who are searching for an active shooter.
“It lets them know, ‘hey this is what’s going to happen.’ If we respond, it doesn’t matter if there is one or two, we’re coming in.”
How would you respond? Sgt. Peppi says that most people have never been put into these types of situations. This course gives participants an opportunity to gauge their own ability to react.
“Introduce them to something they have never been introduced to before, and make them think outside the box,” said Sgt. Peppi. “Give them a set of tools that they can fall back on and the whole time, improving themselves, so that if something happens, at least they have a plan in place.”
Peppi says the hope is that through the training, faculty and staff will prepare a course of action; and by responding, diminish the loss of life.
“You’ll have some type of action that will hopefully mitigate the aftermath of it. Because they reacted in a certain way which was beneficial to their students and themselves.”
Sgt. Peppi says that staging the course takes a considerable amount of time to plan and set up, and that those institutions interested, should contact KSP and start planning at least three weeks to a month in advance.
For more information about KSP’s active shooter training contact Trooper Steven Mounts at Post 9 at (606) 433-7711.
Reach Jackson Latta at (606) 886-8506