Knoxville FBI says surviving an active shooter calls for situational awareness

Knoxville FBI shooter preparedness workshop
Knoxville FBI shooter preparedness workshop

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The shooting that killed at least 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, in December is the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. this year but far from the first.

According to mass shooting tracker, which defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are killed or wounded, there were 372 mass shootings in the United States in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding more than 1,800 others.

The attacks highlight a concern that our nation has come to live with, that you and your loved ones might face a life or death choice at your workplace or at the store. The Knoxville FBI says there are steps you can take to give you a better chance of surviving.

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Active shooter preparedness class

What would you do if a gunman entered your place of work? Or if shots rang out while eating at Market Square? Would you know what to do? How to react? Where to go to be safe?

The Department of Homeland Security offers training, products and resources to better prepare citizens to deal with an active shooter situation. Special Agent Scott Johnson teaches one of those workshops in Knoxville.

These scenario-based workshops feature facilitated discussions to engage private sector professionals and law enforcement representatives from Federal, State, and local agencies to learn how to prepare for, and respond to, an active shooter situation. Through the course of the exercise, participants evaluate current response concepts, plans, and capabilities for coordinated responses to active shooter incidents.

“It’s concerning for me and my employees to be safe. This could happen anywhere and I think we live in a very nice area and we’re desensitized to the area, because we don’t see problems,” said Janet Curry with the town of Farragut who went through the training.

Agent Johnson says situational awareness is one of the main points to take into consideration. He says you shouldn’t “bury yourself in a phone,” you should pay attention to your surroundings and how to get away in a moment’s notice.

“These predators are looking for soft targets, they’re looking for the easy target,” said Special Agent Johnson. “Try to plan ahead, what if scenarios, when you walk into a building or you’re sitting at Market Square, before I sit down with my family I look around to see if something were to happen here no matter if it’s a fire or active shooter, I what if it, what do I do if something happens based on where I’m at sitting right now, where’s the exit, where’s my evacuation route and where’s my alternate?”

Johnson uses the acronym A.D.D., which stands for avoid, deny and defend. He says you should avoid the attacker, deny access to your location and if you have to defend yourself, attack weak spots, like the eyes, throat or groin. He says don’t fight fair and don’t stop until you’re safe.

For more information on active shooter preparedness classes, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website. They also offer a 90-minute webinar that includes the three types of active shooters–workplace/school, criminal, and ideological–and how their planning cycles and behaviors differ.

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