Local News

Wake active shooter training takes on new importance after San Bernardino

Posted December 11, 2015 6:16 p.m. EST
Updated December 11, 2015 6:32 p.m. EST

— Nine days after the mass shooting at a county facility in San Bernardino, Calif., nearly 200 Wake County employees received training Friday about how to handle such a crisis.

Wake County is one of the few municipalities in North Carolina that does active shooter training for its employees, and both they and law enforcement say it's critical.

"If you think about it, the employees are the ones who are typically the victims," said Dwayne Eury, the county's director of safety and security. "You train law enforcement how to respond to the shooter and employees to respond to the event so they're not caught with a deer-in-the-headlight look or response."

In the training, which had already been planned before the San Bernardino shooting, Eury and others told employees what they could expect to see and hear and what to expect from law enforcement.

"We will not stop to aid injured people. That may sound harsh, but the first officers in there are trying to stop the shooting," said Lt. Boris Neal of the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

The county employees were told their response should be, in order, run, hide or fight. Know where building exits are so you can run. If you can't run, hide in a closet, behind a desk or under a table. Finally, if you have to, fight to get the weapon out of the shooter's hands.

"We want to get out of sight of that shooter. We want to get something between us and the shooter," Eury said, noting that some San Bernardino survivors said jumping under a table likely saved their lives.

"If they can’t see you, you just increased your chances of getting out of that situation, maybe harmed, but alive," he said.

Wake County employee Sheila Johnson said she has worried about her workplace since the California shootings.

"That's been one of my concerns working for the county: Is it safe? And what are they doing to protect the employees?" Johnson said. "I thought it was really good training."

The county has been conducting training sessions for employees since April 2014, and more than 1,200 workers have gone through the session. Officials said they plan to continue the training until all 4,000 county workers have completed the course, and the county will then conduct yearly refresher classes.

Organizers say they're not being alarmists, they're being realists.

"This is what we’re living in. It’s sad we’re having to do this, but look throughout the country," Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. "The bottom line is it's reality. It could happen anytime, in any building, anywhere you go."