DC offers active shooter training to nightlife and church workers

An official from Ford’s Theater came to seek advice on how to update their safety protocols. A man who was a few blocks from the 2013 Navy Yard shooting signed up to make sure he knew how to stay safe in the city. And the general manager of a craft cocktail bar showed up Thursday afternoon simply because active shooter training is a part of life these days.

They sat down together, along with dozens of other bar owners and nightlife workers, to learn how to respond if their venue turned out to be next on the long list of establishments devastated by mass shootings.

“It happened to DC?” asked senior DC police officer Dorian DeSantis, a member of the department’s emergency response team, referring to the mass shootings.

“Yes,” responded the audience at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

“Will this happen again in DC? DeSantis said.

“Yes,” replied the room.

Trainings on how to respond to active shooters are not uncommon in schools, and the city has offered similar programs in the past. But the Thursday sessions, organized by the mayor’s office on volunteerism and partnerships, come as fear of mass and indiscriminate violence has intensified. Officials brought together representatives from multiple agencies, including police, fire and homeland security, to offer what they called the first “one-stop” active shooter trainings to DC residents. They were tailored to members of the nightlife sector and the religious community, who had a separate session in the morning, due to their vulnerability to mass violence.

“We’ve seen many instances across the country and even around the world over the past several years of these kinds of situations,” said Christopher Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, who helped organize the trainings.

It’s what cities across the country have accepted as necessary, as the fear of mass shootings escalates with every elementary school class and every holiday parade shattered by indiscriminate gunfire. In San Antonio, for example, a group of bartenders signed up for an active shooter training session held at a local pub. In the DC area, everyone from college students to pastors to bar owners have learned to barricade doors and scan rooms for exits.

“Are you studying what happened at Uvalde?” asked Gabriel Tolliver, a 55-year-old film and television industry executive, during training Thursday.

“Yeah, that was heartbreaking,” DeSantis said.

Fear of recent shootings has some avoiding crowds, businesses

Police told members of the public during the afternoon session that places of commerce were the most common sites of mass shootings and reminded attendees of some of the worst times in their industry’s history. The Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida that killed 49 people. The day a man opened fire on a crowd at a Las Vegas music festival and massacred 60 spectators. The rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Co., that killed 12 people. The hope, public safety officials told the public, is that DC residents and venue operators can learn from the tragedies of the past to prepare for what might come.

“Do you hear the stress in their voices? And they are trained professionals,” DeSantis said, as he released video of authorities in Aurora, Colorado responding to reports of an active shooting at the theater. “We try to reduce the level of stress in you if something like this happens.”

The training is one of the district government’s multiple strategies to keep bars and clubs safe in DC as covid restrictions have been canceled and officials say nightlife hallways have become more crowded than they were before the pandemic. In June, DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced a pilot program that deploys teams of police officers, transportation officials and other agency personnel to the hallways of H Street, the Connecticut Avenue and U Street to disrupt “patterns of violence” on weekend nights. .

Authorities said not all members of the task force team had received this interagency active shooter training, which is still in its infancy. There are no more open sessions scheduled, officials said, but community members can request the trainings.

DC will deploy teams to combat violence and monitor nightlife centers on July 4

On Thursday, a cast of public safety officials offered advice on how interns could save lives – from teaching them how to recognize the warning signs of potential mass shooters, what to do if a gunman is found proximity and how to treat gunshot wounds.

DC Fire and Emergency Services Captain Charles Steptoe taught the group how to treat gunshot wounds based on where the bullet hits.

“Hold your arm,” he said, tying a tourniquet around the arm of William Howard, a 25-year-old who owns a media company that operates in bars across DC. is where the pain would enter.”

Howard, who came to the event to make sure he knew how to run a business safely, said he left eager to join DC’s Community Emergency Response Team – a group volunteers supporting first responders at disaster sites.

“I really appreciate all of this,” he said.


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