(TNS) - Facing an active shooter situation may be as likely as getting struck by lightning, but that doesn't mean lightning never strikes.
That was the warning given to University of Idaho faculty, staff and students as part of an active shooter response training session Wednesday afternoon in the Vandal Ballroom of the Bruce Pitman Center.
In a short training video from the Department of Homeland Security shown that afternoon, experts emphasized the need for everyone to develop a survival mindset before being confronted with danger. In the face of a shooter, the video outlined, respondents must decide whether to run, hide or fight to stay safe.
Members of the Moscow Police Department, the Moscow SWAT Team and the UI Care Team expanded on those points and spent over an hour answering audience questions about everything from open carry protocol to university-wide safety upgrades to how to fight a shooter head-on.
Speaking about prevention, Matt Dorschel, executive director of public safety and security at the UI, said community members in small towns are often afraid to report suspicious behavior for fear they will damage another person's opportunity to succeed.
Dorschel listed several places people can report suspicious behavior, including the UI Public Safety and Security division's website. The division works in partnership with the Office of the Dean of Students, Housing and Residence Life and the UI Counseling and Testing Center to address and receive reports.
"When the hair on the back of your neck stands up, go ahead and report it," Dorschel said.
Those with access to the UI's VandalWeb may also sign up for Vandal Alert, the campus-wide emergency notification system, by visiting www.uidaho.edu/infrastructure/pss/emergency-management.
In a situation where victims and a shooter come face-to-face, MPD Capt. Tyson Berrett said people should never attempt to negotiate with a shooter when a gun is in their face.
"Just remember that if it's an active shooter situation, the only thing that matters to that person is a body count," Berrett said.
Members of the police department also pointed out the training police officers go through to handle such situations, reminding audience members that officers will not stop to help those who are injured until the shooter is caught.
MPD Officer Keith Davis said those who are hiding from a shooter when police arrive should take care to follow police instructions, offer any information they have on the shooter and, most importantly, show their hands to indicate they are not a threat.
The police also told audience members to run away from the situation if they can, continue running and changing directions to become less of a target and to get out of the shooter's line of sight. Those hiding should silence cellphones and blockade doors. Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
Asked about concealed carry laws, Berrett and Davis said anyone carrying a gun during an active shooter situation could be described as a suspect to police in the moment.
"If you think cops are on their way, it's time for your firearm to go away," Davis said.
Still, Berrett said a person with a concealed carry permit could end up saving another person's life.
"If he's in possession of a firearm that could end a shooting, that's a good thing," Berrett said.
More information on active shooter preparedness can be found at www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness.
Those interested in receiving active shooter safety training from the UI's Public Safety and Security division can fill out a request form at www.uidaho.edu/infrastructure/pss/request-training.
Taylor Nadauld can be reached at (208) 883-4630, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tnadauldarg.
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