Deadly mass shootings have dominated newspaper headlines across the country for many years. From June to December last year, 40 people died with dozens injured in five mass shootings in Charleston, S.C., Chattanooga, Tenn., Roseburg, Ore., Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif.
So how do you prepare for the unthinkable? K17 Security is a Rockville-based firm that provides active shooter response training and security consultations to businesses and organizations throughout the D.C. metro region and Baltimore.
“We are able to customize our training for the business,” said Emily Wardrick, K17 director of administration. “We are able to do the training on site and can provide scenarios.”
Company president and CEO Scott Zimmerman, a Montgomery County Police officer, recently did an active shooter training session at the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. The standing-room-only crowd participated in two live shooter scenarios: one where they were told to shelter in place and another where they fought back.
During the first scenario, the participants squatted under their chairs as a gunman burst into the room. He was easily able to aim, shoot and fire his fake gun at multiple targets before leaving. “Shelter in place, that is a good thing in some cases, but in other cases you need to remove yourself from harm’s way and get away from it,” Wardrick said.
Instead of sheltering in place, Zimmerman talked to participants about the importance of Run. Hide. Fight., the FBI’s tips on surviving an active shooter event, but expanded the concept by giving people tips on how to bar doors and fight back by using what is available in their area. As the second scenario got underway, the gunman burst into the room but was met by chaos. People threw objects at him as others tried to tackle him.
“You need to get away,” Wardrick said. “You need to make as much motion and activity as possible so you are giving the shooter, the person that is trying to harm the group, less possibilities to harm somebody.”
Having a plan in place and practicing are key to preparedness, according to Wardrick. “It’s important to train people—to know what to do as an instinct. Practicing in your place of business is important. … A lot of people, if they are not trained, they freeze up and just don’t have that reflex to do the things that are needed to be done.”
The firm’s services can be catered to any business or organization’s needs. “We can go into a business and walk through their entire property—whether they have a campus, whether they have more than one building or whether they just work on one floor in an entire building,” she said. “We look at their exits, their places of entering and exiting. We just look at vulnerabilities.” Employee training talks are also available.
“We want (people after one of their sessions) to feel empowered,” Wardrick said. “We want them to feel like they do have a choice, that they do not have to be victims. We also want them to take home whatever they hear at work. These are skills that are life skills. They are not just work-related skills. … It applies to anywhere you are, whether you are at a restaurant, the movies, in a sitting environment. Anything we are teaching can be used anywhere.”