The chief responds to the shooting in Las Vegas.

Most of the time when I write these articles, I try to have a point to get across. This month, as I write this, I am not sure if I do have a point. I think I do—but where in most months I have the article somewhat composed in my head I don’t this month. So I apologize if this is just me rambling and no clear message comes through. I can’t get the Las Vegas shooting off my mind. I can’t get myself to write about anything else.

I woke up about a week ago to the Las Vegas mass shooting. I was stunned at the carnage and death. As details unfolded I could not think of a worse situation for a group of people to be in: a shooter in an extreme elevated position, with firepower superior to that of the responding Law Enforcement Officers. Those innocent people were literally in a killing field with very few options to help themselves.

After the initial shock and sorrow, I thought about my training as an ALICE instructor. How would I advise people to react to this kind of threat? Honestly, there is not much you can do. Stay low and continually look for escape routes; not knowing how long until the shooter is stopped, putting any distance between you and the target zone increases your odds. With that many people in a confined area, it is far easier said than done. In that situation, look for the emergency responders. Police and fire personnel coming to the scene—trying to bring some order to the chaos.

By chance, I was at a day long training two weeks ago, put on by the Aurora, Colo. Police Department. The presentation was on the Aurora Theater mass shooting at the Batman movie premiere. One of the things I took from them was people needed lanes of safety and that is what the first Law Enforcement Officers provided. Many were out before the first officers arrived, but those that weren’t followed the exit lanes created by the incoming officers. Their officers took “Key Ground” positions to keep the shooter in one area, so the entire theater crowd could get out safely.

Getting distance from the shooter is the biggest thing anyone can do to increase their odds in a situation like these. If you can’t move or don’t know where is safe, look for emergency responders. If they are running one direction, run the other direction in their wake, because that way is safe.

I was asked last week about the training our local officers receive on responding to active shooters. We have been trained by the local SWAT team in the past. We have a group of officers in the county that will be trained in the coming year to become trainers in a program called 3 ECHO. 3 ECHO is how responders are trained to handle these situations. We train ALICE to civilians and 3 ECHO will be how we train our officers from here on out. When we started the ALICE program, we had a multi-year plan to incorporate many trainings to prepare the civilians and emergency personnel in Brown County. ALICE was first and we are moving forward with the assistance of the Brown County Sherriff’s Office and the New Ulm Police Department. We are working together towards a safer community. These situations don’t seem to be stopping, we need to be prepared to handle them—emergency responders and civilians alike.

I have said this before, but please don’t say or even think, “It can’t happen here.” No phrase scares me more. Saying and thinking that, makes for easy targets and easy targets lead to tragedy. Stay safe.