WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The frightening reality of mass shootings hit home in Hesston this year and scared Kansans into action. Many businesses and agencies are training their employees how to survive a gunman in the work place.
“Last year, I taught it just four times,” said Technical Trooper, Chad Crittenden, of the Kansas Highway Patrol. “Just this month alone, I’ve already got 17 requests.”
The KHP offers “Active Shooter Mitigation Training.” On this day, Trooper Crittenden is trying to empower KDHE employees to fight for their lives.
“Once that first bullet comes out of that gun, they are no longer your co-workers,” said Crittenden to about two dozen state employees. “They are no longer your friend. They are a murderer.”
Using a re-enactment video by the Department of Homeland Security (see video below), workers are taught first to run from a gunman if possible.
“Grab your friend, someone’s on the phone, got earbuds in, grab ’em and go,” said Crittenden.
Simply moving, he says, makes you a harder target for the gunman to hit. Employees should scout out escape routes ahead of time—not just from your desk, but from the restroom or break room, since you never know where you’ll be threatened.
“I don’t really think about that all the time, when I’m going someplace or thinking a way to get out,” said David Butler, a field inspector for KDHE.
If you can’t get out of the building, Crittenden says to hide. Lock the door and barricade it with a table or other furniture. Turn off the lights and silence your cell phone.
If the shooter comes through the door, be prepared to fight. Almost anything can be a weapon.
“Maybe it’s my hot coffee,” said the trooper, pretending to throw the drink. “A distraction, throw it in their face.”
Other improvised weapons include a chair, heavy book or coffee mug. In a surprise attack, even bug spray, a stapler or pen can do damage.
“Is this a stabbing device?” said Crittenden, lunging with a pen in his hand. “If you got me in the neck, throat, the eyeball, cheek?”
The trooper says any weapon is even more effective if several people charge the gunman at the same time.
“One against 20, the odds start shifting away from the guy with the gun,” said Richard Basore, a KDHE employee.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office teaches a similar program, also for free, but with one big difference. Deputies can do a walk-through of a business and point out ways to improve security, or in the case of an armed intruder, places to run and hide.
To act quickly in a real emergency, deputies recommend that employees practice their evacuation plan, much like a fire drill, learning where to go and what to do in different scenarios.
“No one says you have to be a victim when these things unfold.”
— Trooper Chad Crittenden
It’s training that employees at 3P Processing in Wichita requested of their boss, who admits he sometimes worries about workplace violence.
“I have had some employees who’ve left the company, and you think about what the situation would be if they came back to the building,” said Terry Karst, President of 3P Processing.
The one thing this training does NOT teach is for employees to get their own guns. Officers believe most people don’t have enough training to handle an active shooter, and when police arrive on the scene, a heroic employee could look like the gunman and get shot.
No matter where you work, security experts say having a plan of action and being ready to fight for your life is your best defense.
“You have a choice,” said Trooper Crittenden. “No one says you have to be a victim when these things unfold. No one says you have to be a victim.”
VIDEO | Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event (City of Houston video)