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Sheriff’s workshop, hosted in Mattituck, shows civilians life-saving techniques in an active shooter situation

As gun violence in the country continues to escalate, people may ask themselves: What can I do to be prepared for an active shooting situation?

To address those concerns, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department hosted an active shooter workshop Monday evening at Mattituck-Laurel Library.

Library director Shauna Scholl said it was the first ever workshop of that nature the library has hosted. Nearly 30 people attended.

The hour-long workshop, presented by Deputy Sheriff Keith Hoffman, accompanied by Deputy Sheriff James White, was geared toward showing civilians life-saving techniques in an active shooter situation.

“I want to try to develop a mindset,” Mr. Hoffman said. “Consider this more training than a magic bullet, so to say.”

According to the presentation, an active shooter incident occurs about once every 18 days in the United States and most shootings occur at businesses or commercial buildings. Around 55% of such attacks are over before the police arrive and about 20% of the attackers are stopped by their intended victims.

The presentation started with disaster response psychology. Mr. Hoffman went over the three stages of human response to crisis: denial, deliberation and decisive movement.

“So we have the way people think in a crisis like that, your first thing is to deny, ‘no, this can’t be happening to me, it’s not going to happen,’ ” Mr. Hoffman said. “Then your mind kind of shifts over to deliberation where you start thinking, ‘All right … what do I do now?’ And then you have to make a decision … so that’s going to be the process that your brain goes through when that crisis descends upon you. This is why we’re here.”

The presentation also included videos and audio of active shooter situations as case studies. One example was the shooting at Virginia Tech University in 2007 where 33 people were killed. Through those examples, Mr. Hoffman evaluated the myriad ways people respond to such situations. Some crouch and hide, others run; some freeze or play dead while others prepare to fight. 

Among Mr. Hoffman’s many tips was a recommendation to drill and prepare for emergencies regularly. Also, he said, if you’re in an active shooter situation, dial 911 to speed up the police response; don’t rely on someone else to do it. Another tip was to always be aware of your surroundings and exits and leave the scene if possible.

The demonstration also introduced resources, such as stopthebleed.org, on how to use tourniquets to stop severe bleeding. The presentation also covered how civilians should respond when the police arrive to the scene.

In a phone interview before the event, Ms. Scholl said planning to bring the workshop to the library had been underway for about a year. It was originally planned for library staff only but they decided to open it up to the community. Another training workshop exclusively for library staff has been set for a later date.

“It’s a direct response to what has been going on nationally and my staff here, we’re definitely concerned about what’s going on in the world,” she said. “We wanted to be responsive to our community and we just really wanted to offer something like this, so that our community can feel like we are supporting them and prepared for any potential situations that might arise.”

Ms. Scholl said the library is planning other similar events for the community.

“That’s what we’re here for,” she said. “The library is here to support our community and to offer programs like this and I hope to kind of continue this thread … we just really want to be responsive to our community and what our community needs are.”

Greenport High School served as the site of a mass casualty training exercise in early June as police and other first responders practiced for an active shooter situation in a school. The training exercise came shortly after the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

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