With active shootings on the rise, communities are taking steps to ensure people have the knowledge and skills to stay safe.
NORTH TONAWANDA, NY – In the wake of the recent mass shooting at Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, and numerous others that have taken place in communities across the country, the City of North Tonawanda is stepping up efforts to educate the community on what to do in an active fire scenario.
On Thursday night, North Tonawanda Police hosted a free Civilian Response Course that provided strategies, tips and tricks or survivor active shooter events.
According to Gun Violence Archive, an online database that collects information and research on gun violence, there have been 254 mass shootings this year alone – including the last in Maryland on Thursday afternoon which made three dead and several injured.
NT Police Keith Glass told 2 On Your Side’s Liz Lewin that their hope in running this program is to equip as many people as possible with the knowledge of how to manage their stress during these types of scary situations so that they can react appropriately.
“It’s about having the mindset to be able to take a deep breath, realize what happened, and take action,” Chief Glass said. “The first thing we tell you is if something is wrong, get out, get out of the building.”
Veteran Lt. Nick Iwanicki and recently retired Detective Steve Endres co-led the presentation. Both men are experienced members of the Tonawanda-North Tonawanda SWAT team.
“Obviously we can’t get there fast enough,” Detective Endres says, “that’s why you have to be careful of your surroundings.”
Be alert, know your surroundings, and if you see something, say something.
“We don’t pay attention to it. Or if we see it, we ignore it. That’s where vigilance comes in in this presentation,” Det. Endres continued.
Lt. Iwanicki stressed that “it is not a particular person who is committing these attacks. Both men and women have committed these attacks”.
During active fire situations, it is important to remember these three words: Avoid, Refuse, Defend.
Avoid – pay attention to your surroundings and get away from the source of threat as quickly as possible.
To refuse – Create barriers to prevent or slow down the threat from reaching you.
Defend – Be ready to defend yourself, it’s a matter of survival.
Mayor Austin Tylec says that based on community feedback, he’s open to hosting more of these educational programs in the future.