By Kim Hilsenbeck
If a mass shooting incident happened while you were at a movie theater, in school, at church, at a mall or anywhere else, what would you do?
That’s the question Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd wants people to think about before something happens.
In his active shooter response class last week at the Buda Library, Kidd taught a room full of people, including local teachers, about what they might do if ever in the situation of having a gunman attempt mass killing.
Because, as he said, “Bad and evil exist in the world.”
Kidd, who conducts training on active shooter response for law enforcement and the military, expanded his course offerings to include ordinary citizens.
In preparation for creating his class lessons, Kidd has interviewed dozens of mass shooting survivors as well as law enforcement personnel who were on the scene.
The result was that many people with no background or training in dealing with such situations truly have no idea how to respond.
He said many of them think playing dead is the best option. But he told the group, hiding is not an effective strategy.
“You’re not helpless.”
He also reminded the attendees, “Being shot doesn’t equal dead.”
Kidd played a video of a presentation by Christina Anderson, who survived the Virginia Tech University incident. She was shot three times by the gunman who entered her class that fateful day.
As Anderson explained, she and her classmates decided to fall to the ground and play dead when the shooter entered their classroom.
“That struck me as very odd,” Kidd said after the video clip. “What if they would have had a wolf pack mentality and charged the guy?”
Kidd also personally interviewed Anderson and something struck a cord in him. She said, “I wish someone in my life would have had a conversation with me.”
She wasn’t sure if that would be the university or somebody else.
“I would have known what to do,” she said.
Kidd said he wants local teachers and residents to know what to do, should some kind of incident occur locally.
“That’s what we’re going to do today. That really is my motivation for teaching this class. The conversation really needs to be had. The problem is not going away,” he said.
Kidd showed statistics that lend credence to the idea that mass shooter incidents are happening more and more. In a time-lapse visual of a map of the United States between 2000 and 2013, he demonstrated how such events are steadily on the rise. In the United States there were 160 mass shooting incidents.
Kidd’s statistics didn’t include several recent incidents at a church and a movie theatre.
Kidd said he wants the general public to be aware of the potential for violence and, more importantly, to be prepared.
Over the next two hours, Kidd walked the class through 911 tapes of mass shooting incidents, a video re-creation of the school shooting in Columbine and more of the presentation by Anderson. He also showed statistics and other visuals to drive the point home that people can be prepared and do not have to play dead.
The crux of Kidd’s program is to use this acronym: ADD – Avoid, Deny and Defend.
Kidd explained each step.
For avoid, he said if you can get away from a potential shooter and get help, do.
If avoidance isn’t possible, deny, meaning don’t allow the shooter access to where you are; this could include barricading entry points.
If avoid and deny don’t work, Kidd said at that point you must defend. People working together in a wolf pack mentality have the ability to take down a threat, he said.
A portion of Kidd’s class dealt with how the human brain deals with stressful situations. For example, he said, as stress increases, so does a person’s heart rate. As the beats per minute increase with stress, there are some corresponding reactions, such as loss of motor skills, tunnel vision and potentially system overload.
Suggestions to help handle a stressful event such as a mass shooting include:
• Calm yourself
• Control your breathing
• Shift your emotion
• Use mental scripting
Kidd said these techniques can lower your heart rate 20 to 30 beats per minute. Regarding emotion shifting, Kidd suggested using fear and stress and turning it to anger.
“Tell yourself, ‘I’m not going to be a victim,’” he said.