Active shooter situations happen more often than we all care to think about, and the fear that many may have felt this week locally when a false alarm was called in at Walmart in Rocky Mount probably drove that home.
Rocky Mount Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police all responded to Walmart on Old Franklin Turnpike on Monday afternoon when a 911 call came in falsely reporting an active shooter situation at the big box retail store. Fortunately, the call proved to be a false alarm, phoned in by an intoxicated man who was later arrested. No one was injured and no shots were fired.
However, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has been working to educate community members on what to do in an active shooter situation, and they should be applauded for their efforts. No one knows when or where the next mass shooting could happen, so if — and we hope this is not the case — but if something happens here, people can have some training in what to do.
FCSO partnered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to hold two separate four-hour classes Feb. 27 at The Franklin Center in Rocky Mount that covered both defense strategies, as well as tips on helping shooting victims during an active shooter situation.
Instructors taught civilians the avoid, deny, defend strategy, including tips on how to be aware of one’s surroundings and how to find ways to deny access to shooters in addition to how to defend themselves as a last resort.
Because law enforcement’s first priority is to find and stop a shooter to prevent further casualties, getting access to the injured may take some time. Officers can’t always stop to help an injured person when they are locating a shooter, and EMS can’t get to a scene until it is cleared by officers.
On average, it takes three minutes before officers arrive on a scene during an attack, according to instructors of the class. If a bullet were to hit a person’s artery, they could bleed out in as little as two minutes.
Instructors provided each person in the class with a tourniquet and instructed everyone on how to use it. They also gave tips on how to stop bleeding if someone is shot in the abdomen and how to clear an airway to help a person breathe.
Every large corporation, school district and interested citizen should take a class like this to learn the basics so that if the need should ever arise, people will know what to do or where to start.