All Types of Training Go into the Making of a Safe Community
Mike and Sue Chopik
Sue Chopik cares for people and their dental hygiene. She also cares for the safety of the people who live, work and play in her community.
"Forewarned is forearmed," she says.
Chopik works at Homewood-Flossmoor Dental Care. She lives in New Lenox, IL, and is active in the village's
Safe Communities America coalition. She and her husband, Mike, are members of the New Lenox Community Emergency Response Team.
The two have undergone training for emergency and disaster situations, including Surviving an Active Shooter Event, a course offered by the National Safety Council.
Active Shooter Incidents on the Rise
Dan Martin teaches NSC Surviving an Active Shooter Event in New Lenox, IL.
The reality is most people never will have to use this training. A person's odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash are 1 in 114, compared to 1 in 6,905 for firearms discharge.
However, active shooter training is on the radar of more individuals and organizations because of a rise in incidents across America. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 40 active shooter incidents between 2014 and 2015 – an average of 20 each year. That's nearly double the average for the previous 14 years.
"In our schools and our workplaces, we do a great job with fire drills," said New Lenox Safe Community Coordinator Dan Martin. "We do a great job with severe weather drills. This just has to become as commonplace as those."
Martin said preparing for an active shooter emergency starts with situational awareness. Know what is going on around you all the time. Trust your instincts: If you see something, say something. Devise a plan that includes:
- Learning emergency notification systems and distinctive alarms used in places you frequent
- Identifying two possible escape routes wherever you are
- Finding places to hide
"Here in New Lenox, especially with CERT, we're a safe community," Sue Chopik said. "I think this emphasizes how important it is to have that knowledge and that preparation and that skill if a situation should come in to your place of worship, your business or the places where you normally hang out."
You Are the Best Safety Option
Prior to taking on his duties with New Lenox Safe Communities America, Martin spent 17 of his 30 years in law enforcement as a SWAT team member. He said response mentality in active shooter incidents has evolved from "contain and call for help" to "run, hide and fight" since the Columbine massacre in April 1999.
Most active shooter incidents are over in a couple of minutes – often before first-responders can arrive on the scene.
"So, it's important for private citizens to be aware of their surroundings and be able to follow the concepts of run, hide and fight so they can take care of themselves and others during these types of situations," Martin said.
Run. Hide. Fight., the trademarked video tutorial of what to do in an active shooter emergency, was produced by the Houston Mayor's Office of Public Safety with funding from Homeland Security. The three-step approach to survival is simple and easy to remember:
- Run: Always the first choice; get out and take others with you
- Hide: Find a place to hide; act quickly, turn off lights, lock and block doors, silence cell phones
- Fight: The last resort; improvise weapons and work alone or with others to disarm the shooter