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  • Megann Horstead

Active shooter training prepares residents for the worst

It’s a scenario everyone wants to be prepared for: an active shooter.

On Saturday, July 29, Frankfort Black Belt Academy invited retired law enforcement officer Rick Whitehead to lead a four-hour block session of active shooter training.

The course was set up in response to the rise in active shooter events exhibited over the past decade.

“They’re very receptive to the information,” Whitehead said of the simulated training. “They’re also very concerned something like this could happen in their area. They’re also concerned about what they can and they should be doing so they don’t become a victim.”

The scenario: A disgruntled individual enters Frankfort Black Belt Academy with a firearm.

Faye Starcevich, of Frankfort, knelt on the ground before the subject in question as they aimed the weapon at her head.

“It was actually pretty scary,” she said in retrospect. “You know that it’s a simulation, but the reality is that it could actually happen, and [I’m] wondering what would I do. Would I use what I’ve learned under that situation if ever confronted with someone pointing a gun at me? So, it’s pretty scary, actually. It’s scary to think about that actually happening.”

Starcevich said she decided to participate in active shooter training because of the state of the world she lives in.

“Just looking at all of the shooter situations in the news and in the workplace, I mean, we’re far more vulnerable now,” she said. “I just wanted to have a little bit more knowledge about what to do if ever in that situation.”

Starcevich said she is glad she signed up for the course.

“The drills that we did earlier today really it makes you think,” Starcevich said. “I mean, things you would never thing about. Like, if you’re kneeling and someone’s pointing a gun at you, don’t have your feet flat but actually go on the balls of your feet because it gives you momentum to move forward if necessary—something I never would’ve thought about before taking this class.”

Vicki Truesdale, also of Frankfort, said she signed up for the training course because of the way the world has changed over the last decade. Truesdale is also a karate instructor and the president of the Friends of the Frankfort Public Library.

“[It’s] just the news,” she said. ‘When you watch the news, it [happens] just about everyday.”

The hope, Truesdale said, is that she can feel better prepared and “just to be more aware of what I can do if the situation arises if I’m somewhere at a store, or at work, or wherever it might be.”

When Truesdale was confronted by a gunman through one of the simulated exercises, she said she didn’t know what to expect.

“It made me feel anxious because I’ve never been in a situation like that,” she said. “I’ve never held a gun. So, having to respond or doing something imagining if it was real, that’s hard. But, it’s better to be exposed and at least practice with a rubber gun than it is to be put in a situation where it’s not practice. I kind of know what that feeling might be like. Hopefully, I’m never in that situation, but if it were to happen, I’d have some experience that I can back up on.”

Whitehead said the training course manages to achieve its aim, whether it’s for an active shooter situation developing at a school, the workplace or anywhere else.

“At this point in time, it could be any building or any organization,” he said. “It’s hard to pinpoint to say, ‘Yeah, this school is a target.’ It’s really hard to say which would be a target, but any building can be. So, it boils down to what preparation you take to avoid or maybe lessen the effect of it, because the more prepared you are for it, ‘Ok, now you’re going to act appropriately’ versus being totally blind to it until the chaos happens.”


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