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Central Ohio IFMA Chapter Members Receive CRASE Training

     On April 20, 1999, two students entered Columbine High School where they shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher, injured another 20, then turned the guns on themselves, committing suicide.   The crime was the worst high school shooting in U.S. history and prompted a national debate on gun control and school safety, as well as a major investigation to determine what motivated the gunmen, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17.

     It was a story that captured the nation, and shocked viewers as images of students falling out of windows and crying in a nearby parking lot were broadcast and printed. Later, videotape of the boys roaming the school and looking for victims haunted a nation. But Columbine was not the deadliest shooting.

     The deadliest school shooting in U.S. history took place on April 16, 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people before killing himself at Virginia Tech, a public university in Blacksburg, Virginia.

     More recently, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, sent shockwaves throughout the educational community as some of the youngest victims’ pictures captured the attention of our nation -- and the world.

     In the last two decades, mass shootings in the United States have increasingly grabbed headlines. While the response immediately following Columbine – until very recently – has been to hide from an active shooter, experts have examined incident data and crafted a different reaction, one that law enforcement believes will result in a decrease in victims.

     On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members got an up-close and personal look at how to respond to an active shooter incident through CRASE training offered through the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

     The four-hour course – called Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRAVE) -- not only covered the reasons why NOT to hide from an active shooter, but trained chapter members on how to respond and help others plan a response as well.

     And it all starts with being aware.

     “Many people respond thinking this is none of my business,” said Deputy Tony Casper of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. “What you need to figure out quickly is that this is your business. The more we are together, the less bad people we keep in.

     “You’ve got to pay attention… and you need to report anything unusual or suspicious.”

     The more individuals are aware of their environment, Casper continued, the safer they are. This also serves in helping to protect the community they live in.

     Perpetrators involved in active shooter events often leave warning signs that something is about to happen, said Casper. He cited the writings and video rants of Harris and Klebold as examples of early warning signs that might have proven useful to families and law enforcement had they paid proper attention. He noted another shooter who was taking target practice at bulls-eye targets on the ground just days prior to his rampage in another incident.

     Most shootings happen at businesses, and are performed by men. Most have a connection to their victims or the location.

     Despite the place, the perpetrator, or the circumstance, though, Casper said HIDING is not an option anymore. Statistics show that taking action is much more effective in saving lives and stopping the shooter.

     So how does one react to an active shooter event?

     Simply, AVOID; DENY; and DEFEND.

     Yes, it's that easy, Casper pointed out to IFMA Chapter members.

AVOID starts with your state of mind.

• Pay attention to your surroundings.

• Have an exit plan.

• Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible.

• The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.

 

DENY when getting away is difficult or maybe even impossible.

• Keep distance between you and the source.

• Create barriers to prevent or slow down a threat from getting to you.

• Turn the lights off.

• Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silence your phone.

 

DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself.

• If you cannot Avoid or Deny be prepared to defend yourself.

• Be aggressive and committed to your actions.

• Do not fight fairly. THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL.

 

     In a study conducted by the FBI of active shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013, 40 percent of the perpetrators committed suicide, 28.1 percent exchanged gunfire with law enforcement, 13.1 were unarmed by private citizens, and 3.1 percent exchanged gunfire with armed citizens.

     In 55 percent of the cases, the attack ended before police arrive at the scene.

     "If you just do something," said Casper, "you will lessen the number of people who die in any given situation. You can minimize negative outcomes."

     Casper cited the 2007 Virginia Tech incident as a clear example of the success of the CRASE approach. According to data gleaned from the tragedy: The first classroom the shooter reached, Room 206, went into traditional lockdown. When it was all over, 10 of the 14 people inside that classroom were killed, while two were wounded. In Room 211, which also went into lockdown when the shots were heard, 12 of 18 were killed and six were wounded.

In the adjacent Rooms 204 and 207, students and faculty barricaded or tried to barricade the doors, while in Room 204, 10 students jumped out of the window. In Room 207, five of 13 were killed and six were wounded, while in 204, two of 19 were killed and three were wounded.

In Room 205, where a dozen students and faculty got on the ground and barricaded the door with their feet, preventing the shooter's entry, everyone survived.

     "You don't have to have a gun," said Casper. "You don't have to be a cowboy. But you have to take action."

     To schedule a CRASE training course, contact Tony at trcasper@franklincountyohio.gov.