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Run, hide, fight active shooter training might not be the most effective, expert says

Rolando Rios, Orlando Salvat, Vincent Torres
Posted at 2:52 PM, Feb 15, 2023

The deadly shooting at Michigan State University this week was among dozens of mass shootings just one month into the year.

How we prepare for these active shooter situations is changing.

"Run, hide, fight" has long been the message. That message was on the alerts sent to students at Michigan State University.

But some law enforcement agencies are shifting away from the hide piece of this and preparing people to "take action" instead.

“If we look at things like Virginia Tech and Parkland, Florida, shootings where people that hid did not have a great survival rate, it can make us change our training to better adapt survival rates in these kinds of situations,” said Deputy Michael Fetherolf of Ohio’s Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

Fetherolf leads active shooter training for his department. The method they've been teaching over the last few years is avoid, deny, defend.

He said many people from other states have looked at their program to bring it to their community.

“We start saying, ‘OK, you can deny entry to where you are,” he said “If you can lock a door, that's great because then they can't come in. But if you're not able to lock the door, we need to do something else. We're not just sitting in a room waiting for someone to come find us in this room or underneath of a table, or whatever it ends up being because, and we even say in class hiding is waiting your turn to get hurt.”

He says to look for ways to get out, like through a window or breaking through the drywall.

If you need to defend yourself before you can get out, throwing things at the shooter is one way to take action as they pick what they think are easy targets and don't expect people to fight back.

Ultimately, he tells us active shooter training isn't about trying to scare people, but about making sure we're as prepared as possible.