This fall the City of Fort Worth held five active shooter civilian response training sessions for Fort Worth residents.
The courses were built around the avoid, deny, defend strategy that was developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training in 2004.
The FBI found that active shooter incidents have been increasing over the years. In 2014 and 2015, there were 40 active shooter incidents, which resulted in 231 casualties according to the FBI. That averages to one every 18 days.
“As we’ve seen since 2000 all the way up to now, these instances where people are going in and taking lives are trending up,” said Lieutenant Edward Fishman from the Fort Worth Fire Department. “We just think it’s important that the citizens are empowered to be able to do something for themselves until public safety can get there to help them.”
Fishman instructed the last course.
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Retired ICU nurse Melody Wayne attended a similar course 40 years ago but said the course offered by the city provided new information on how to protect oneself.
“They were more open about the fact that you need to avoid,” Wayne said. “When I was doing this before they didn’t give you that option they kinda told you ‘hide under the desk’ and [Fishman] very well brought out that hiding under the desk is not an effective way to do things.”
The avoid, deny, defend strategy teaches people to avoid the situation, deny access to yourself and defend yourself as a last resort, said Fishman.
“I don’t care if it’s a pair of scissors or a thermonuclear device – it’s a threat, someone’s trying to kill our citizens,” Fishman said. “We want them to respond in this manner.”
Residents taking the course heard phone calls placed to 9-1-1 and saw reenactments of the 1999 Columbine shooting.
The information was then used as a tool on what individuals could have done differently to help increase the chance of survival.
“You can defend yourself by throwing a stack of clothes at people,” Wayne said. “Anything to interfere with their aim and that’s kind of what I took away from it. Anything to avoid, anything to interfere with their ability to hurt others.”