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Vermont State Police offers active shooter training

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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) – Would you know how to stay safe and help those around you in an active shooter situation? The Vermont State Police initiative, SurviVermont, aims to help people learn basic emergency preparedness skills.

They hosted them in counties across the state and on Thursday the session was held in Chittenden County. Many of those present were there on behalf of organizations, including churches.

“Being prepared is the best thing we can do,” said Cynthia Reynolds of South Hero Congregational Church. She and her husband Phil help make emergency plans for the church. This includes plans for fires, volunteer background checks, and medical emergencies. They started putting together a full plan before COVID hit and say it was time to finish the job.

“We really don’t have an active shooter plan, so we’ll see what’s recommended,” Phil said.

Vermont State Police Lt. Hugh O’Donnell leads the classes. He says he pulls material from three federal programs, giving people basic information on what to do in active shooter situations and other emergencies. “The first is ‘See something, say something.’ The second is, ‘Run, hide, fight.’ The last is “Stop the Bleed”.

Some of the specific information reviewed includes how to break a window, do a tourniquet, and how to recognize suspicious activity. “Seconds make a big difference if you already have the mindset, knowledge in your head,” O’Donnell continued.

He says businesses and schools accounted for the most active shooter situations from 2000 to 2017. Places of worship accounted for 4% during that time.

The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho was also working on contingency plans before the pandemic. Vicki Milton, along with other members, were at Thursday’s SuriVermont session. They say it’s important to be proactive to keep people safe. “What are the new thoughts on access control? What do we need to be prepared? Like stopping the bleeding kits, stuff like that, that’s what I want to learn tonight,” Milton said.

“You always think, ‘not in my town, not in my church,’ but you just don’t know,” Cynthia said.

You can find upcoming session locations and registration links on the Department of Public Safety website.

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