Journalists across the state get active shooter training

By Joan Cartan-Hansen

Run. Hide. Fight.  That should be your mantra if you ever find yourself in an active shooter situation.  That’s the advice from Gary Oster, a retired Boise police officer and now a trainer specializing in business planning for active shooter incidents.  The Idaho State Broadcasters invited Oster to speak to journalists across the state. Oster says most incidents are over before the police can arrive, so it is up to each individual to be prepared. He suggests:

  • Practice “situational awareness,” pay attention to your surroundings and report anything unusual.
  • Know where your exits are, wherever you are.
  • Establish a “safe” or “lockdown” room at your work so you know where to go in an emergency.
  • Employers should have policies in place to deal with an active shooter and employees should be familiar with what those policies are. Everyone should rehearse those emergency procedures so they are familiar with them.

The Idaho Statesman staff had a similar discussion earlier this summer, as have other Idaho news organizations this fall.  Columnist Bill Manny described what he took away from that session:

  • “Shooters must decide between easy and hard targets.” Message: Make yourself a hard target. Doors need locks. Windows need “shooter shades.” A gunman won’t fight with a locked door if he – they’re almost always guys – can’t tell if targets are inside.
  • “Don’t fight fair.” Message: It doesn’t take a gun to fight back. Keep a hammer at your desk. Or grab your scissors. “Do what you gotta do,”
  • “Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.” Message: The first signs of trouble might not be obvious. You might hear strange sounds. Or no sound, a sudden silence. Or a trick of sound: A gunshot on another side of the building may sound like a builder hammering, not what you expect gunshot to sound like.

Connie Searles, president and CEO of the Idaho State Broadcasters Association, says her board decided to sponsor these training sessions “as the reporting and dissemination of news has become more controversial.” Searles says, “While many of our members and the press have done trainings like this on their own, we felt a concentrated effort for all would be welcomed.  As evidenced by the large turn-out we have had across the state so far, it is training that is welcome, if sometimes difficult to hear.”
Joan Cartan-Hansen is a producer, reporter and writer for Idaho Public Television; a former Idaho Press Club president, she’s also the treasurer of the Idaho Press Club board.