Do you know what to do in an active shooter situation? On Wednesday, January 29, the University Police Department (UPD) hosted a free course available to staff and students on how to survive during a violent attack.
Within 15 minutes into the workshop, the room fell silent as students sat and listened to the audio recording of a 9-1-1 call that a teacher made during the Columbine High School massacre. They listened to the the teacher’s panicked voice as she spoke to the dispatcher. It was then that Detective Lance Higgins from the UPD paused the audio recording so that he could explain why it’s important to practice combat breathing.
Detective Higgins used this four-hour course to train students and staff on the techniques they can use to survive an act of violence. From mass shootings to horrifying bombings, he warned students of the graphic content he would show in class to raise awareness of the attacks that have happened in the past. Higgins explained, “It’s not to scare you. it’s to be aware.”
The PowerPoint presentation featured photos of the victims from the Boston Marathon attack and heroes from the Virginia Tech school shooting. These horrific events were used as examples of knowing when to run, knowing when to hide, and knowing when to fight.
Detective Higgins advised, “The best thing to do is keep yourself safe. Run away if you can, get away from the assault, get away from the noise, get away from the thing that’s taking place to keep yourself safe.” Higgins continued, “If you have to, hide. If you have to, fight. There’s no other choice.”
The detective stressed the importance of being vigilant to your surroundings and paying attention to details in order to give a good description during a 9-1-1 call. He reminded students that if they see something, say something, and not to wait for something life threatening to happen before reporting it.
The workshop included a few hands on activities in which students were taught how to apply a tourniquet: apply two to three inches above the injury, pull the band as tight as you possibly can, and spin the windlass three times to lock it in place to stop the bleeding.
Detective Higgins asked two volunteers to attempt to take a rubber rifle out of his hands in the event that the only option is to fight the attacker. As one of the volunteers, I felt hesitant and uncomfortable even reaching for a fake gun. Higgins was quick to point out how nervous I was taking hold of the rubber rifle. He stated, “I know that was simple, but it’s giving you a perspective of how hard it is to think about grabbing onto a gun.”
This workshop is a chance for students and staff to listen to the advice given by actual law enforcement on ways to survive a life threatening attack. Informations Systems Technology major Hector Pimienta commented, “This is very helpful for those who have no exposure to this whatsoever and for it to generally ease them into it.”
Some students were even shocked by the turnout, stating that more staff should have attended the event. Spanish major Braylon Mendoza stated, “A lot of faculty would probably say ‘well I don’t get paid for this’, but I think it should be like bread and butter where you have to learn it at this point and time. It’s something that is necessary now.”
This workshop is free and offered once every quarter to all staff and students who wish to attend. Every quarter, emails are sent out to everyone at CSUSB by the UPD informing them when the next workshop will be available.
Mendoza said, “You get to have an idea on what are your chances and possibilities in any given emergency. This is something good that people should take advantage of, because I know something like this would be pricey. So if it’s offered here for free, why not take advantage of it?”