Barton Community College has stepped up its game in terms of safety and preparedness in recent months. New emergency notification apps and other enhancements have been paired with a recent series of trainings for employees on the college’s Run Hide Fight response to active shooters.
Lt. Stephen Billinger of the Barton County Sheriff’s Office and Barton Campus Safety Lead Officer Lucas Stoelting delivered the training together. They included two live exercises to demonstrate the benefit of Run Hide Fight versus the previously widely adopted “lockdown” procedure.
First, participants were asked to duck under desks and initiate the traditional “lockdown” procedure. Stoelting then came in the room with a foam dart gun and began firing. Nearly everyone was hit by a dart.
“Sitting ducks,” one participant said to describe the situation.
In the second exercise, participants barricaded the door and made makeshift weapons. Typically these would be chairs or anything that could be thrown to harm the shooter. For Stoelting’s safety, these were long foam noodles one would find at a swimming pool. Once Stoelting entered the room he was immediately pelted, and even disarmed by a participant. Stoelting didn’t get a shot off.
“We would have saved a lot of lives,” Billinger said of the exercise, had it been real.
The officer emphasized the need for a change in mindset to be leaders in these situations and take action if necessary.
The order of Run Hide Fight is intentional. Billinger said to run if possible.
“If you can escape, why wouldn’t you?” he said. “Escape if you can.”
If a shooter is near and escape isn’t an option, the next best course of action is to hide and hide well; out of sight and barricade any doors.
If the shooter enters the room or confronts somebody, individuals are encouraged to fight back with vigor and to commit to defending themselves in any way possible.
The mandatory training has so far been offered in several sessions over two days, and will be offered at various times throughout the semester. Future plans for safety enhancements include an active shooter training exercise for law enforcement on the Barton County campus.
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