On Thursday, about 50 officers with Horry County police, Aynor police and school security provider U.S. Security Associates were at Socastee Elementary School training for how they would respond to an active-shooter situation.
They were just some of the 260 officers being trained this week.
“It’s an annual refresher for us,” said training officer Kevin Cast. “We do eight hours a year of active-shooter training and that kind of keeps our officers sharp on using the techniques that we would use to mitigate an active-shooter situation.”
The officers practiced room-clearing techniques several times before the drill at the end of the session. One cop played the part of the active shooter in the gymnasium in the force-on-force drill, where officers used special guns to shoot plastic bullets at the bad guy, who also was armed with a special gun.
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Officers entered the school and followed the sound of gunfire, generated by blank rounds. The officers went in a line down the hallway, checking each room while approaching the sounds until they eliminated the bad guy.
“If the suspect is actively shooting, our response is direct to threat,” Cast said. “We are going directly to where those sounds of gunfire are taking place and we’re going to stop that from happening.”
How do police respond to an active shooter?
If there’s an active-shooter situation, the first officers arriving on scene will take immediate action.
“Whether it be the first officer, the first and second officer or a whole handful of them show up all at the same time, their job is to find out as much information as they can very quickly as soon as they get in the door and they are going directly to where the sound of gunfire is taking place and they’re going to stop that from happening by any means possible,” Cast said.
Once an area is secure, officers will set up what Cast called a “casualty collection point” to gather the wounded.
“Everything is going to be clear and safe up to that point and that’s when we’re going to start dragging some of the wounded,” Cast said. “We’ll take our injured parties in there and we’re going to bring medics immediately onto the scene inside to start treating the wounded and then shuttling them out.”
What to do in an active-shooter situation
In an active-shooter situation, there are three ways to react: run, hide or fight.
“If there’s a bad guy in the building and he is shooting people, if you can get out and run away and remove yourself from that building, then do that,” Cast said. “If that’s not possible because you’re kind of locked down in a classroom or in a closet or in a gymnasium, the next best option would be to hide, and if you cannot hide because he’s in there with you, then we want you to fight.”
In Horry County, each school has a different active-shooter plan designed specifically for that school and approved by the administration, but those plans aren’t published.
Cast noted that most businesses and schools have their own plans for dealing with an active shooter, but the best thing to do if possible is run.
“What we recommend from a law enforcement perspective is to run, is to get out of there,” he said.
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian