MOSES LAKE — Improving the chances of survival and escape in the event of a shooting attack was the subject of a training session for student tutors at Big Bend Community College.
Mass shootings are rare, and it’s very unlikely that one will happen at BBCC, said campus security director Kyle Foreman. But a shooter, when he or she is looking for targets, looks for a place where people don’t know how to react, he said. The training makes the building a less attractive option, a process Foreman called “hardening the target.”
Law enforcement and security officials have learned from various incidents, he said, and one of the first lessons is that the highest number of fatalities came in places where people didn’t react. Victims were most likely to get killed when they froze or tried to hide in an unsecured place, Foreman said.
People should be aware of their surroundings, especially when they’re in a place that might be an attractive target, Foreman said. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to check the entrances and exits, he said, and look for any objects that could be used to slow down a shooter. The traditional method of security, practiced in elementary and secondary schools, has been to lock the classroom and shelter the kids away from any windows. That’s still an option, Foreman said, but there are others.
“The biggest one and best one is evacuate.” Even in a lockdown situation the people trapped in a room need to look for a way to get out, he said. In order to get time to run, potential victims need to do what they can to make it tougher for the shooter to target them. “You need to try to throw their game off,” Foreman said.
“If you oppose them, you throw their game off.” Part of throwing the assailant’s game off can be throwing things at them. The STEM classroom was full of objects – the fire extinguisher, the chairs, student backpacks and books – that would slow down an assailant, Foreman said. Students have “permission to react” when necessary, he said.
“Throw and run,” he said. “Run – run out that door. Run where? I don’t care.”
In a room where there’s no way to lock the door and no other exit, people should find whatever they can to barricade or block the entrance. An assailant is looking for easy targets, he said, and a barricaded door doesn’t fit in that category.
If there’s an assailant on campus, people who know it need to tell as many people as possible. “Yell it, text it, tweet it, whatever it is,” Foreman said.
Students got a chance to see what the advice would look like in practice; BBCC tech specialist Jeremy Seda played an attacker. The students were asked to stay in place the first time, and threw rubber balls at the “attacker” a second time before running out the STEM center doors.
Foreman said he plans to provide the training to other departments at the college.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.