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How to Stay Safe in a Critical Incident

How to Stay Safe in a Critical Incident Click to Enlarge Photo: Pixabay

(KNSI) - Following the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, many may think "It can't happen here."

Four words that could leave you unprepared in the event of the unthinkable because it can happen here, and it has happened here.

In 2016, a knife-wielding man stabbed several people at Crossroads Mall.

Security video showed store employees slamming their doors shut and closing their gates to keep the suspect out. Other shoppers can be seen running out of the area.

Sergeant Brian Johnson is the Community Policing and Recreational Service Supervisor with the Wright County Sheriff's Office. He goes to businesses, nursing homes, schools, and churches to talk about what to do in the event of something like the mall stabbing, active shooter or other critical incident. Sergeant Johnson says training is key when it comes to knowing what to do.

"It's obviously not a fun thing to talk about, but it's also an important thing. If we ignore it and something were to happen, a lot of people wouldn't act appropriately or handle it appropriately, so if we can go out and educate, train them, give them something, it definitely can save lives."

Johnson suggests reviewing your emergency plans and conducting training at least twice a year, if not more often, because knowing exactly what to do will become automatic, saving precious seconds when time matters most.

"The only way things become automatic is by doing it over and over and over again. It's one of our theories in law enforcement, is that we train. We train so that when the situation happens, we react and view it appropriately."

Also as part of the training, Johnson says always trust your gut and report suspicious activity.

"Anything that seems out of the ordinary to you, whether you're at home, at the movie theater, at work, don't be afraid to call law enforcement."

He says they rely on the community for help.

"We cannot catch every criminal by just doing good police work. A lot of times we catch them because somebody brought us to that location. Somebody saw something that seemed out of the ordinary, and then we utilized our good police work as well, but we rely on our community and we want the community to work with us, so please call."

He adds that when you are calling 911 in an emergency, the most important thing to tell the operator is the location of the incident. That way, if you get disconnected after a few seconds, at least they will know where to send help.

Benton County Emergency Management Director Jim McDermott has worked on active shooter training and security for local schools and he says in an email to KNSI that he is,

"Open to any organization within Benton County that would like a presentation on Active Shooter/Other Incidents on how to prepare and respond. Faith-based organizations should consider this type of training along with groups that put on large events. Vigilance and Situational Awareness are necessary in the age we live in today. People need to remember that there cannot be a police officer on every corner or in every building to protect them."

The Benton County Sheriff's Office has a YouTube channel, and on it, there are three videos they produced intended to help anyone learn what to do in the event of an active shooter or other critical incident scenario.

Any Benton County Group can contact McDermott to arrange this type of training.

Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck has presented to groups using the videos. He says "If another community group, like a church, would like to have our office come and present on these topics, we would be happy to do so. Alternatively, anyone is welcome to use the videos on our YouTube channel to provide instruction on their own."

Stearns County Emergency Manager Erin Tufte says Emergency Management also provides community presentations and training on a variety of different topics, but most commonly on "personal preparedness and steps each of us can take to be better prepared to care for ourselves and our families during times of emergency."

McDermott says, "Together with Emergency Management and Law Enforcement, a person can learn what signs to look for and what to do if an incident occurs, but you have to make the effort to learn about it."

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