The company Amy Christian works for doesn’t have a response plan for an active shooter event, but she plans to discuss the need to develop one with the company’s owner.
Yesterday, Christian, Director of Business Development for Dickinson Architects, was one of many local business leaders who attended this month’s Third Thursday Business Builder presented by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. The topic was preparing for an active shooter.
“We haven’t done any drills, but we’re definitely going to start talking about it,” she said.
The speakers were Augusta University Emergency Manager, John Ryan and FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Brian Ozden. They discussed a new initiative called #strongaugusta, the first of its kind in the nation, which is based on the National Fire Protection Agency’s Standard Active Shooter/Hostile Event (ASHER) Program.
Ryan dispelled some of the common myths about mass murderers.
“It’s not just a shooting thing, it’s not just a gun thing,” he said. “There are other weapons and tactics these criminals use.”
For example, Darrell Brooks Jr. was convicted of killing six people and injuring many others when he drove his car through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin in Nov. 2021.
“It’s not a uniquely American problem,” Ryan said. “It’s a worldwide problem.”
While law enforcement officers haven’t developed a profile for active shooters, most are males, and many let others know about their plans prior to an attack through videos posted on social media. One of those shooters was Seung-Hui Cho, who killed more than 30 people, including himself, at Virginia Tech in April 2007.
“You want to stop the event before it happens,” he said.
Ryan said it’s important to report all threats of violence to the police.
Ozden said most law enforcement officers have never dealt with an active shooter event, but they all receive the same training on how to respond in case they do. He and Ryan have already begun offering their training services to local businesses.
Ozden offered simple but practical advice for handling an active shooter incident: run, hide, and fight. He said many of these incidents only last a few minutes, so it makes sense to get as far away from the perpetrator as possible. Hiding often involves many actions, including turning off lights, silencing cell phones, and barricading doors.
If a business’s employees have no choice but to fight, many common objects, such as staplers, can become weapons.
“You can play dead, but I would rather fight,” Ozden said.
But having a plan and being observant are essential.
“Figure it out on ‘blue sky’ days,” he said.
Blue sky days are days when a business isn’t dealing with an active shooter.
Ryan said police typically arrive between three and eight minutes after an incident is reported.
Christian plans to share the information she gathered from the presentation with Nick Dickinson, owner and CEO of Dickinson Architects.
“We go to a lot of job sites, and we focus on physical safety, like wearing hard hats, but we need to add this to our list,” she said.