Mass killings, such as the incident at a Las Vegas music festival Sunday night, often stir up questions on both the public and private scale.
How can anyone truly be prepared for a gunman at public events?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides resources online for private citizens, business leaders and first responders at www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness, and McHenry County police departments also prepare for such events.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and unfold quickly, but typically last 10 to 15 minutes, according to the department’s site. Officials advise individuals to always be aware of the two nearest exits and any possible dangers. If a shooting takes place inside a building, go to the nearest room and lock the door. Only try to take down an assailant as a last resort.
The mantra for reactions in these situations is run, hide, fight – in order of importance.
If there is a way out, escaping should be the priority. Leave belongings behind, help others if possible, keep hands visible and follow emergency responders’ instructions.
Hiding is the next option. Find a location out of the shooter’s view that does not restrict movement and lock or blockade any entrances. Turning off a cellphone can help as well.
Trying to incapacitate the attacker is the last resort. Do this by throwing items or improvising weapons, such as fire extinguishers, yelling and committing to actions.
It’s also important to know that the first emergency responders to arrive likely will not tend to those who are injured.
“Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons,” the resources state. “They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.”
Algonquin Deputy Police Chief Ryan Markham said it’s important for people to realize that these situations can happen to anyone.
“Mentally prepare yourself that even though the likelihood of this happening is not great, [it’s important] to have a plan in place,” Markham said.
He added that it’s vital to be aware of surroundings, especially in places a person might frequently visit.
The department site includes tips for office leaders to prepare their staff for these situations and identify potential risks.
Cary Deputy Police Chief Jim Fillmore said if an active shooter situation plan has been created, it’s important to stick to that plan.
“Follow the protocols that are in place,” Fillmore said. “We do training each year with the district schools in the area, and it’s really important to kind of stick to those guidelines.”
Markham said Algonquin police also do annual trainings with teachers, custodial staff, maintenance and administration in Huntley School District 158.
“[It’s a] great way to get them prepared. ... Gives our guys an opportunity to get more familiar with the interior of the building,” Markham said. “It seems like it’s been a great exercise for us to do.”
Algonquin police have given preparedness presentations at the village library as well, Markham said, and sent officers to countywide training with the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.
Recently, Algonquin police have worked to incorporate Lake in the Hills responders into its training.
“[We have the] same fire protection district,” Markham said. “We wanted everybody to be familiar working with each other.”