Thanks to an informational seminar, dozens of area women are more prepared when the unthinkable happens.
The Seguin Police Department hosted the fourth Citizen Response to Active Shooter Events — or CRASE — Friday at the Seguin Public Library. While the last three instances had a mixture of attendees, this event was the first to be limited to just women.
“Women tend to not engage in this training if they’re mixed in,” Seguin Police instructor Tanya Brown said. “Women won’t think other women are stupid if they ask a question and are therefore more likely to speak up. Women are the planners and are more likely to take this seriously and form a plan for their family.”
The two-hour event brought in an audience of 35 participants of all ages. Brown presented video examples and testimonials of survivors of mass shootings, followed by researched information on how to avoid becoming a victim in the event of a violent event.
The program prioritizes preparedness and avoiding the situation entirely if possible. The information is designed to program people’s mind to automatically think of the safest, most logical next step, Brown said.
“CRASE teaches options,” she said. “We want people to be aware of exits and to know that playing dead is not an option in these situations. And it’s not just limited to shootings. This information is good for stabbings, vehicle attacks, you name it.”
to shootings. This information is good for stabbings, vehicle attacks, you name it.”
CRASE participants are taught to first leave the situation through a known exit if possible, heading away from the sound of the attack. If that is not an option, people in active events are instructed to stay quiet, out of sight and “deny” any indication they are present. Locking doors, turning off lights and erecting a barricade strengthen the chance of this measure succeeding.
Should the event unfold into the unthinkable, people are instructed to fight and defend themselves when all other options are exhausted. When forced to confront an active threat, don’t fight fair, fight to win, Brown said.
Brown presented videos from survivors of Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook and the methods they used to stay safe. Classrooms in Virginia Tech’s Norris Hall that took action to evacuate or effectively stay out of sight had fewer deaths and injuries than the classrooms who didn’t have time to do anything, Brown said.
“The timing is important so people make plans in the case of an event like this,” Brown said. “How we respond when stressed makes it harder to slow down and rationalize the next step, whether that’s how to react or how not to react. Ultimately, you have to get up and do something.”
Individuals caught in active threats are advised to secure their safety before calling 9-1-1. When police arrive, their first mission is to stop the killing, save the dying and evacuate all other survivors, Brown said. When the perpetrator is caught or found, the media is advised not to name or focus on the attacker, but on the victims instead.
Olivia Skaggs, a landlord from McQueeney, and Beth Zies, a retired teacher, were both present for the training. This was the first time the ladies had been able to get a spot at the seminar, as the first two events “filled up within 15 minutes,” Skaggs said.
“People really want to attend this because it’s a serious problem and a lot of people don’t know the fundamentals,” Skaggs said. “Personally, I think the program could stand to kick it up a few notches. A higher level of attention would benefit more people, especially gun owners.”
The police department currently has four instructors certified to host CRASE trainings. The latest event was scheduled following the Dec. 30 arrest of an armed man decked out in tactical gear who came to Seguin to “fulfill a prophecy.”
“I hope we continue to offer this,” Brown said. “We will travel if need be. We’ve worked with schools, businesses and churches to get this training out there. We are no longer denying the fact it can happen here.”