WYOMING, Mich. -- People in West Michigan learned how to respond to an active shooting situation during a training session Thursday, scheduled weeks before the deadly school shooting in southern Florida.
Express Employment Professionals hosted the session at its training center on 44th Street in Wyoming. The simulation and training included experts who responded to 9/11, or trained members of the FBI and Homeland Security teams.
Ultimately, adult employees learned "Run, hide, fight," and how to practice those tactics while under pressure, during a simulated active shooter situation in their work community.
"We don’t talk much about the point when that shooter actually busts through that door, what do we do next?" explained David Grover, owner of Solid Foundation Tactical.
"Our environment has changed on us, ever since 9/11, and drastically even more since 2018. We truly need to pay attention to what’s going on around us, and help each other out, strength in numbers, help each other out."
Grover is a former Navy Seal and retired police officer, who worked with the team of experts to train local business' employees Thursday.
In an office room at Grand Rapids First Church, a group sat in discussion as a simulated shooter burst through their door. Participants overturned tables, threw objects at the shooter, and then barricaded the door once he left, huddling there. But the shooter, who wishes to remain anonymous and has Special Forces experience, debriefed the group saying if possible, group leaders must rush the shooter to try to disarm him or her, and buy time for others to run.
"If I’m coming through here like this, if there’s two guys here, alright trap my gun and push me against the wall," said the anonymous role-playing shooter. "Grab it, push me against the wall. Where can I go? I can’t go anywhere. That gives you time to do what? Run. Or, a third person, who’s got high heels on?"
The group reacted to that particular simulated active shooter situation for eight minutes, which law enforcement in the room explained is the national average for first responders to arrive at a scene. Officers reiterated to the group that if you cannot escape, stay away from the door, windows and dry wall, and instead stay near concrete walls.
The training worked to teach adults how to react to an unthinkable situation, while raising employers' awareness on how to transition into recovery after tragedy.
"Sometimes when these events happen they can be so overwhelming, not only to the individuals but the organization itself, and it's helpful for organizations to keep in mind the simple acronym, ACT: acknowledge, communicate and transition," said Lyle Labardee, owner of Amplified Life Network.
"How do we help people move from this awful event that occurred to the next steps?"