A consultant at a business that provides active shooter preparedness training says there is more demand for their service since July.
Tim Smith is a consultant at Centurion Consulting Group and a sergeant with the Norman Police Department. In addition to teaching people how to respond to an active shooter, he conducts security surveys of buildings to check for vulnerabilities, writes the Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo.
Smith and Capt. Tony Riddles, who also works for both the Norman Police and Centurion, teach people three steps to respond to an active shooter: Get out, hide out and take out.
If you can get out of the building, run to the nearest exit. If you can’t, then find a place to hide, preferably in a room with a solid door that locks.
If you can’t hide and the shooter is approaching, people should spread out, because it’s harder to hit moving targets. Then try to take out the shooter with any solid object, Riddles said. Even spraying foam from a fire extinguisher or throwing hot coffee could help save precious milliseconds by distracting or hurting the armed person.
“He has a gun, and he has an advantage,” Riddles said. “But you are not helpless.
Smith and Riddles held a training session last week at Norman Regional Hospital during the Cody Conference for Mass Casualty Disaster Care. Sarah Terry-Cobo told KGOU that hospitals present a unique challenge for this kind of training.
“There is a lot of foot traffic. There are a lot of unlocked doors. Plus you have a lot of patients who can't get out. They can't hide out, and they can't take out a potential intruder on their own so they will rely on other people to help them,” Terry-Cobo said.
The Oklahoma City metro has many health care professionals who have worked during disasters, such as the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building and the Moore tornado. Terry-Cobo says hospitals generally have one or more disaster preparedness session per year so staff will be ready in case of a mass casualty event.
“It's not all about mass shooters of course. Any mass casualty is likely to bring in dozens of patients at a time to an emergency room. So they need to know how to triage and how to respond quickly to save lives. The one in Norman also included information on how to spot biological attacks for example that may not seem obvious,” Terry-Cobo said.
Jacob McCleland: It's the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I'm Jacob McCleland. I'm talking today with the Journal Record's senior reporter Sarah Terry-Cobo. Sarah thank you for joining us.
Sarah Terry-Cobo: Thank you for having me, Jacob.
McCleland: I want to talk with you about a story you wrote about active shooter preparedness training. Since July, Centurion Consulting Group has received an increase in demand for their services. Tell us a little bit about Centurion Consulting Group. What does this group do?
Terry-Cobo: Well it's interesting because they are beyond your typical security consultant. They train people in business how to respond in case an armed gunman comes to the building. They've even provided some informal consulting to churches, too. Basically they go in and they examine what are the vulnerabilities within a building. Are there doors that don't lock? Does everyone know how to get to the nearest exit? You know even how to look around and find an object to defend yourself if you can't escape or hide.
McCleland: Now you observed one of their trainings at Norman Regional Hospital. What was that like?
Terry-Cobo: It was interesting. So you've got these two guys from Centurion. They've both been with the Norman Police Force for at least two decades. They give you the basics. You get out and you hide out. And then they call up these three volunteers for the third component to practice that third part, take out. Three audience volunteers basically tackle the consultant when he comes in the door. One aims high, the other aims low, and the third person has to get the gun away from him. It's a toy gun of course. It may seem morbid but the mantra that the Centurion consultants have is that you don't want to be thinking about this when the gunfire begins.
McCleland: What makes hospitals like Norman Regional, what makes hospitals particularly important places to hold active shooter preparedness trainings?
Terry-Cobo: Well there's some unique things about a hospital setting that make it more challenging to train than a typical workplace because it's more open. There is a lot of foot traffic. There are a lot of unlocked doors. Plus you have a lot of patients who can't get out. They can't hide out, and they can't take out a potential intruder on their own so they will rely on other people to help them.
McCleland: You know having training for an active shooter at the workplace is one thing but I mean these types of incidents I mean can really happen anywhere. Can this training apply in other public places like in a shopping center for instance?
Terry-Cobo: Absolutely. And I think that's a little bit where the conversation kind of lended [itself] to was what happens if I'm you know out shopping with my kids and we get separated. And you know these Centurion consultants, they're, you know, trained police officers and so they say any time they go into a shopping center they know, hey, if you get separated or if you if you can't find me, we always meet back at this place. So even before you walk in the store here's the central place where we're going to meet if we get separated for whatever reason. You know, and that's just kind of a basic you know awareness of your situation, of hey, if mom and dad get separated from kids at the shopping center we're going to meet back here if all else fails.
McCleland: You know here in the Oklahoma City metro health care professionals who have worked through disasters before, I'm thinking of the Oklahoma City bombing or the Moore tornadoes. We have a lot of people with firsthand experience about with things like this. I mean how can they help prepare newcomers to the region who work in health care for the possibility of disaster?
Terry-Cobo: Well it's these disaster training sessions really. So hospitals typically have at least one or more disaster drill or disaster preparedness session so their staff can practice every year. And it's not all about mass shooters of course. Any mass casualty is likely to bring in dozens of patients at a time to an emergency room. So they need to know how to triage and how to respond quickly to save lives. The one in Norman also included information on how to spot biological attacks for example that may not seem obvious.
McCleland: Sarah Terry-Cobo is a reporter at The Journal Record newspaper. Sarah thank you so much for talking with us.
Terry-Cobo: It's great to be here, Jacob.
McCleland: KGOU and the Journal Record collaborate each week on the Business Intelligence Report. You can find this conversation at kgou.org. You can also follow us on social media. We're on Facebook and Twitter @journalrecord and @kgounews.
The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.
As a community-supported news organization, KGOU relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond.