Woman's Club learns to handle 'active shooter' situations

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  • Officer Megan Grover of the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office shares important information with members of the Woman’s Club and their guests.

  • PHOTOS BY JANET REDYKE Hillary Manser, assistant to Sheriff Michael Strada, stresses the seriousness of active shooter response.

  • Officer Robert Cottrell of the of the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office share important information with members of the Woman’s Club and their guests.

VERNON — The Vernon Township Woman’s Club sponsored a disturbing yet very necessary presentation on Thursday, Nov. 29.

Three members of the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office, Hillary Manser, Officer Robert Cottrell and Officer Megan Grover presented a 90- minute civilian’s response seminar on the response when confronted by active shooters as specified by the Department of Homeland Security.

“Unfortunately, these situations are becoming more common,” Grover said.

The talk was meant to empower average citizens and hopefully assist in survival with active shooter circumstances. The officers used a Power Point presentation, as well as situational videos like active shooters in office buildings, schools and shopping centers. Both officers, expertly described plans that civilians and law enforcement can activate when needed. Officer Cottrell discussed three options that civilians can adapt to the situations.

“A normal reaction to a shooter can be to freeze up,” explained Officer Cottrell. “Civilians need to overcome that reaction and use common sense to form a plan.”

There are three options for those who are being threatened by an individual intent on mass casualties. According to the officers, option one is to evacuate and run with empty, uplifted hands. Option two, when flight is not possible, is to hide, staying quiet, out of sight and barricaded.

“Hiding is not a passive activity, locking a door can save your life,” stressed Officer Cottrell.

The last option of survival is to fight for your life. Using heavy, sharp objects as weapons can mean the difference between life and death.

“Shout, yell, use weapons, don’t develop a victim mentality. If you’re alive, you’re very much in the fight,” declared Officer Grover.

The officers exampled the Virginia Tech shooting, the Las Vegas tragedy and several church shootings. They also spoke about the number one plan of law enforcement which is to apprehend the shooter as quickly as possible.

An extremely common sense, life saving quote offered by the officers from Psychology Today magazine is worth memorizing.

“Run when it’s safe to run, hide where it’s safe to hide. And fight if you have no other option.”

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