By: Alton Pitre
Faculty and staff of Valley College received a much needed training Friday, March 18 on emergency response, in the event of an active shooter on campus.
Valley College has yet to experience an active shooting, but recent threats have caused for a campus evacuation.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy James McKain lectured to the staff of the proper procedures to take if there is an emergency, and what to expect from the suspects and law enforcements.
Mckain also emphasized that teachers and faculty should contact the Sheriff’s direct line in case of emergency; the number is (818) 947-2711 extension 2911.
“We, the Sheriff’s Department here at Valley College, we are not here to help you, save you or evacuate you,” said McKain explaining, the Sheriff’s mission during a school crisis. “We are here to stop people from dying.”
McKain quote may come off as harsh and not un-comprehensive but it is the truth. The Sherrifs tasks during an active shooting are not to do anything but stop the bad guy.
The deputy deeply expressed that time is of the essence and most important in these situations. Faculty and students must understand that and cooperate accordingly to assure that the suspects are dealt with, and that everyone is kept safe.
He guarantees that no stone on school grounds will be left unturned when searching for these predators.
Based on the history of past shooters, they are all usually quiet and intelligent. “Remember these guys are planning these events,” said McKain. “They are doing their homework just like we are doing our homework…what we are trying to do is burn his time up and get to him.”
From the time the first call is made to a dispatcher, until the time of the Sheriff’s arrival at Valley, the teachers and faculty are in charge.
However, they won’t be in control for long, since Mckain made it clear that the Sherriff’s can arrive within ninety seconds of the call.
Within that time, the faculty is ordered to follow a protocol of three essential steps: run, hide, or fight.
The deputy explained the three steps: If the danger is in your vicinity, run. If you are not able to run, hide. Secure the immediate area, lock the doors or barricade them if needed, then patiently wait until help arrives. The last resort is to fight, but only if your life is in imminent danger. Fighting will probably consist of doing whatever is required to survive, according to McKain.
Valley personnel should be very cognizant of their current circumstance and already have their thought process prepared, because any type of action is better than doing absolutely nothing, Mckain stated.
Preceding episodes of campus shootings were also reviewed for a better knowledge of what usually occurs. Schools like Columbine, Cal State Fullerton, Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech were discussed.
During Santa Monica College’s shooting, for example, the suspect was taken down two minutes into the incident, with 83 different agencies of about six to seven hundred police from all over southern California responding to the call.
The deputy stated that in the event of an incident the response you will get is massive. Mckain himself was surprised of how many law enforcements arrived to the scene. He confessed that he did not even know there were that many different agencies until the Santa Monica College incident.
The LA County Sheriff urges everyone to call the Sheriff’s direct line instead of 9-1-1 in the event of a campus emergency.