By Alfredo Santana
DOWNEY — The workshop was held six days before the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that saw 19 students and two adults killed.
It was sandwiched between that incident and shootings in Buffalo, New York, and in Orange County May 14 and 15 that took an additional 11 lives.
The Downey Police Department in partnership with the Downey Chamber of Commerce conducted an hour-long active shooter presentation at City Hall May 18 offering advice to business people about what to do should a mass shooting incident happen at their work place.
Downey Police Detective Ron Gee conducted the workshop, telling those in attendance there were three life-saving measures to consider in an active shooter crisis at work or school: run, hide or fight back.
“It’s unfortunate it happens, but we have to be able to deal with them,” Gee said. “You have to manually and physically prepare to survive an active shooter situation.”
Defined as acts where four or more people are injured or killed, mass shootings can start from disgruntled employees, friends and others whose behavior turn erratic, or from individuals who become loners.
Gee advised people in work situations to be on the lookout for strangers lurking on the premises or individuals acting suspiciously.
In addition to hate crimes, financial difficulties and pending civil or criminal litigation are potentially major causes of shootings, Gee said.
He advised anyone going through tough times to reach out to his or her boss, and told co-workers to be proactive in identifying people acting in unsocial ways.
He said fostering a respectful workplace can prevent employees from going awry or resorting to use rifles or handguns in retaliation to bullying.
“I used to be one that minded my own business,” Gee said. “[Not anymore] If we see something, say something,”
But if a shooting takes place at work, employers should be able to account for all people on the premises. For example, if a company has a staff of 20 and 17 are present, police responding to the emergency should account for their well-being.
However, Gee told the audience that the police’s top priority is to stop the shooter, not to attend to the injured, and said police responding to a shooting will walk right past wounded people on the floor if they are trying to neutralize a gun-wielding suspect.
In the event of a shooting Gee advised those in charge to “turn off lights and silence cell phones. Lock up and stay quiet.
If an escape is possible, Gee said employees should use the “buddy system,” system and pair off with other employees so they can watch out for each other while finding an emergency exit. He said people should leave their belongings behind.
He said that if breaking a window is the only way out to do it and not be afraid of being blamed.
If hiding is the best option, Gee said “we want to hide in the best places.
He said people choosing to hide should move sturdy objects like chairs and desks against a door to form a barricade barricade. He also said hide to behind and below objects that may not be pierced by bullets, like strong metal surfaces, objects made of thick material and cement walls.
Never hide behind a plywood door or walls built with drywall, he added.
If all else fails, Gee said to go after the attacker. Grab anything that could be used as a weapon, like a pencil, pen, a metal bar, a cell phone or a fire extinguisher.
At this point “what do you [have] to lose?” Gee asked. “Active shooters don’t care what’s your race [is], nor who your lover is. Just fight!”
He also cautioned people trying to overpower an assailant not to brandish any weapons taken from the attacker. Police officers entering a crime scene are looking for weapons and will take anyone for the shooter.
“Engaging law enforcement in shooting situations can put people at risk,” Gee said. “Be aware of the environment and your surroundings. Notice the type of potential dangers like chemicals. They will look to sabotage those things as well. It’s not just shooting.
People involved in a workplace shooting should do their best to assess the situation and show or raise hands to arriving officers. They also can help be being able to describe the suspect’s appearance and what types of weapons were being used.
Most active shootings are over in about 10 to 15 minutes, Gee said.
If a robber carrying a gun enters a small business he advised employees to remain calm, give the suspect what he want and run, hide or fight. “Life is not worth risking for cash or a case of beer,” Gee said.
“You have to be aggressive and commit to your condition,” he added. “Fight until your last breath. Military drills show human bodies can take a lot of stress until they die. You fight on, and keep on fighting.”
He advised business owners to conduct active drills at workplaces at least once a year, but preferably quarterly, and peg them to CPR training so employees can be prepared to administer life-saving procedures.
He also advised them to have a list of nearby hospitals and their phone numbers ready to pass on to relatives so they can track where their family members may have been transported by paramedics.
He also said businesses should have a first aid kit on hand that should include bandages and equipment to either stop a person’s bleeding wound or to apply a tourniquet.