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CRASE Training

June 24, 2022 - 4:59pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, CRASE Training, batavia police department, notify.

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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

That’s a popular quote with a ring of cliche, but a truth nonetheless that was center to Batavia Police Department’s active shooter training Thursday evening.

And for nearly three hours, Officer Arick Fleming and Detective Steve Cronmiller not only reviewed the history of events — devastating as they were — but discussed how lessons can be gleaned from each scenario. Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events, or CRASE, training was conducted by the police department as a way to better equip ordinary citizens with the knowledge to survive a possible future attack.

While some scenarios illustrated the surprise element of an attack and how it can paralyze people with fear, many others contained gems of insight into how survival really comes down to each individual.

Three key words to keep in mind are denial, deliberation and decisive, as each one will become an action taken by people caught in a surprise assault or tragic event, Fleming said. He asked the group of about 25 attendees how long they might have before emergency responders arrive on scene. Answer: Three minutes. While that isn’t a whole lot of time, it’s three minutes that can mean life or death for the person that hesitates to act in the face of a horrific situation, he said.

Denial: Not acknowledging that something might be happening and ignoring possible warning signs. He gave the scenario of hearing a bang and dismissing it as a car backfiring. Or, as shown in some actual video footage, not reacting when seeing flames on the other side of a building or when an angry, armed man disrupts a government meeting. Most people remained where they were as if gripped with fright or ignorance that something tragic was about to happen.

Deliberation: Assessing a situation for what is actually happening and what are some possible actions to take.

Decisive: Choosing to act in some way, whether it is to flee the situation, find a hiding place or actively combat the danger (a gunman or fire, for example).

“The ones who can make better, quicker decisions are the ones to survive,” Fleming said.

All too often, people look for the lead when in a crowd, he said, instead of acting upon their own instincts. Another video, in which actors lay on the ground acting ill, demonstrated how group-minded individuals can be, as one by one, passersby ignored the person on the ground. In one experiment, 34 people walked by in the first 20 minutes without any acknowledgment of the situation.

The brain’s response to stress …
There is a response to stress, Fleming said, that involves the “lizard brain,” in which a person will either fight, flee or freeze. Their brains may lock up and focus only on one solution — one way out of a burning building, for example.

Yet another video of an actual fire at a nightclub showed a crowd of people seemingly oblivious to a fire that had erupted and was visible. They remained in that group-minded mentality that, since no one else was moving, convinced them it must be the right thing to do. And when it became a mad rush out of the building, people flocked to one main hallway. They became wedged against each other unable to get out. More than 30 people died in that hallway, while several others perished at other points within the building due to not acting immediately, Cronmiller said.

Another interesting but tragic lesson was that nobody even thought to use an alternative exit within the club, he said. Caught up in panic and a gradual thawing of shock, folks just made a mad dash by following everyone else.

“If just one person had thought of breaking the plate glass windows, they could’ve gotten out,” he said, adding that if a building has a kitchen, there is always an exit door there.

A taped interview with a surviving teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut proved that there are options to take in order to survive. She hid 15 children in a small bathroom and hushed them throughout the time period a gunman ransacked the school and took 26 lives. Even when police finally came to the door, she wouldn’t let them in. Fleming agreed with that choice.

“I wouldn’t open the door for police if I didn’t believe it; if I wasn’t 100 percent sure, I wouldn’t open the door,” he said.

Law enforcement would be able to obtain keys or otherwise find a way into that bathroom, he said. For those who do choose to hide in a room, use whatever is available to barricade the door, he said, from a doorstop to desks and chairs.

A physical response ...
When it comes to fighting off an attacker, the same advice applies: use whatever is handy. Attendees suggested a water bottle, fire extinguishers, chairs and the U.S. flag in council chambers. Being the victim of an attack should make you mad, he said.

“Use that anger. The more things we can throw at his face, that’s going to mess him up,” Fleming said. “You’re buying us time. What you do matters; we need to make it through those first three minutes.”

Philosopher George Santayana seemed to have it right: don’t forget history and don’t repeat the unfortunate mistakes of others. Fleming and Cronmiller wanted everyone to learn from the past and survive a catastrophic event.

The recent attack by a gunman in Erie County prompted Lynda Kelso to attend and obtain those lessons, she said.

“The attack in Buffalo really hit close to home. I saw an opportunity to educate myself a little more. I have one kid in every school, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. I can be available to help,” she said. “If I can learn even one thing to help … I’ll be better equipped should something happen here in Batavia. I would be the one to react; if I can help, I can help.”

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Top photo: Batavia Police Officer Arick Fleming talks about active shooters during a civilian training Thursday at City Hall. Above, Officer Fleming and Detective Steve Cronmiller conduct the training as part of the department's Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events education. Photos by Howard Owens.

June 15, 2022 - 10:11pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Batavia PD, CRASE Training, notify.

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Gone are the days when one’s safety seemingly depended on avoiding phone and email scams, talking to strangers and keeping the house locked up at night.

With mass shootings reportedly on the rise, danger zones can be anywhere, from McDonald’s and Tops Friendly Markets to schools and concert venues. For some time now, and upon request, Batavia City Police members have been conducting civilian safety workshops to offer tips on how to deal with these horrific public events. Now they’re bringing one to the general public.

“We have on staff three, there might be four, officers that are trained in what's called civilian response to active shooter incidents. And we've given this workshop to different businesses at their request over the past several years. But obviously, with everything that's gone on in Buffalo, and then nationally, we saw an opportunity to deliver this to the community at large,” Chief Shawn Heubusch said during an interview with The Batavian.  “We sat down as a group and thought, you know, we can do this as well, to try to prepare our community a little better than what they are. So it is something that we've been doing, we've usually been doing it at a request, this will be the first time that we actually push it out community-wide.”

The Batavia Police Department is conducting a Civilian Response to Active Shooter/Threat Events Class next week. There are two options to choose from -- 4 to 7 p.m. June 22 or 6 to 9 p.m. June 23 at City Hall, 1 Batavia City Centre.

This course is open to the public and is free of charge. It will provide strategies, guidance, and a plan for surviving active shooter/threat events. Le Roy has conducted the workshop and Batavia’s police department has given it to businesses, and more recently United Memorial Medical Center, upon request, Heubusch said.

chief_heubusch_3.jpegHe describes it as an “all-encompassing class” that includes videos, discussion, and some interactive exercises.

"We talk a lot about previous incidents, and what you can learn from those, and teach each other, teach everybody, how to survive these incidents, and hopefully get an idea of what to look for, or precursors if you will,” he said.  “Learn some body language and some physiology about how you will react in a response to an active shooter event or an active threat event as well. So kind of a learning tool to understand what I learned my body will be going through just from a physiological standpoint of how the fight or flight issue (arises), and just kind of how you can work through that to survive.”

Those interested in attending should select just one of the two workshops. Although there will be signs advising attendees about the sensitive nature of the course, people may want to consider whether they want to remain for the entire portion or not, he said. Some people may have to be excused if they're not comfortable with it, he said.

“And it'll really be driven by what the class is comfortable with as well. Depending on the age group that we're serving, or you know, the abilities of the people in the class,” he said.  “It’s really an overview, and giving everybody a general knowledge and some ideas of what to look for and, again, how to survive.”

Batavia City Schools is on the list for this course in the fall, he said. Heubusch encourages anyone that wants to attend, to do so, however, Batavia residents will be given first preference. Seating is limited and registration is required. To sign up or for more information, contact [email protected] with your name, address, and phone number.

You will receive a confirmation email once accepted, he said. In order to be admitted to the class, you will have to provide your name. Depending on the level of interest, BPD may offer additional courses at a later date and time.

Photo: Chief Shawn Heubusch

February 16, 2018 - 4:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Sheriff's Office, CRASE Training, crime, news.

Batavia's St. Paul Lutheran Church will cap off a week that has focused the nation's attention once again on the tragedy of mass shootings by hosting a special countywide training event tomorrow at its Washington Avenue church.

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office was invited to present training in CRASE -- Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, congregation leaders will learn how to prepare and respond to an active shooter situation, should one occur at their respective houses of worship.

St. Paul Pastor Allen Werk, who has also served as the Sheriff's Office chaplain for about five years, attended national training in order to return to his community and in turn help train others. It is useful for schools, congregations and businesses alike -- open places that may be easily accessed by someone intending to harm people.

"This training affords congregation leaders the opportunity to come together to talk about ideas they may want to implement in their own churches should the unthinkable occur," Werk said in a press release. "We pray this will help all our churches be better prepared if the inconceivable happens."

CRASE Training addresses individual responses as well as group preparations. It has been developed in partnership with Texas State University and is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Werk says the cornerstones are ADD -- Avoid / Deny / Defend. Participants are taught to quickly recognize a threat and to take evasive action by getting away swiftly or rapidly taking steps to deny access to a shooter, then defending lives in any way necessary.

"The training teaches you what happens, what to expect in an active shooter situation," Werk said, adding that it is beneficial in getting larger groups to think about this, to be aware of the potential, and what steps to take in response.

For example, the leaders of a congregation may want to limit access to worship services to one or two entryways, effectively funneling the foot traffic. They may consider the benefit of having greeters and ushers who are trained to keep an eye on who's coming and going in the building throughout the service; noticing and greeting a person -- a signal they have been seen -- in itself could be a deterrent in some cases, the pastor noted.

Taking cues from how others are responding in a public space is important.

"If you see something that could be a danger -- step up -- make the congregation aware, help provide safety," Werk said.

Asked if certain individuals should be armed, like a security detail, to counter an active shooter, Werk said that is not part of CRASE Training; and although it's widely argued that "a good guy with a gun" is what you want to have when a bad guy is wielding a firearm, Werk said that is something the organization itself must decide.

"We are pleased to assist Pastor Werk in educating congregation leaders on the appropriate actions to take should an active shooter situation arise," said Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. in a press release.

Our news partner WBTA contributed to this story.

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