Vermont State Police offer active shooter trainings

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:15 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Would you know how to stay safe and help those around you in an active shooter situation? The Vermont State Police initiative, SurviVermont, is aimed at helping people learn basic emergency preparedness skills.

They’ve been hosting them in counties across the state and on Thursday the session was held in Chittenden County. Many of those in attendance were there on behalf of organizations including churches.

“Being prepared is the best thing we can do,” said Cynthia Reynolds of South Hero Congregational Church. She and her husband Phil are helping make emergency plans for the church. This includes plans for fires, background checks for volunteers, and medical emergencies. They started developing a comprehensive plan before COVID hit and say it was time to finish the work.

“We really don’t have a plan for active shooters, so we’ll see what’s recommended,” Phil said.

Vermont State Police Lieutenant Hugh O’Donnell leads the courses. He says it pulls materials from three federal programs, giving people basic information on what to do in active shooter situations, and other emergencies. “The first one is ‘See Something, Say Something.’ The second is, ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’ The last one is ‘Stop the Bleed.’

Some of the specific information reviewed includes how to break a window, make a tourniquet, and how to recognize suspicious activity. “Seconds make a big difference if you already have the mindset, some knowledge in your head,” O’Donnell continued.

He says businesses and schools accounted for most active shooter situations from 2000 to 2017. Houses of worship made up 4% of them in that time frame.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho was also working on emergency plans before the pandemic. Vicki Milton, as well as other members, were at Thursday’s SuriVermont session. They say it’s important to be proactive in keeping people safe. “What are the new thoughts on controlling access? What do we need to be prepared? Like stop the bleed kits, stuff like that, that’s what I want to learn tonight,” Milton said

“You always think, “not in my town, not in my church,” but you just don’t know,” Cynthia said.

You can find locations for upcoming sessions and registration links on the Department of Public Safety website.

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Vt. authorities to offer active shooter trainings to the public