On Wednesday, Feb. 8, Interim Director of Public Safety My Tran held a presentation teaching faculty and students what to do in the event that a dangerous intruder enters Bellevue College. Tran presented this all with a PowerPoint, video and stories of actual shootings as well as involving the audience by acting out hypothetical scenes.
Trainings like are held once every quarter. The reason why they are being held is an increase in school shootings since 2000. According to Tran, last year had a larger amount of school shootings in the U.S. than any other year.
Even with this, many people are still unprepared for a dangerous situation. Tran said that many people have an “it wouldn’t happen to me” kind of mentality, one of the possible reasons for them not preparing for a dangerous intruder.
Tran emphasized that people need to think about what they would do in situations where someone would enter a public place with the intention to hurt and kill people. “What if, right now, where just here I am talking to you, you would hear [gunshot noises] outside in the hallway? […] What would you do?” He went onto say that asking and answering these kinds of “what if” questions can be really helpful when trying to get out of a dangerous place alive. “I’m not saying you should be paranoid, I’m just saying you should think about it,” said Tran.
Additionally, dangerous intruders are usually very easy to spot if someone is paying attention. Tran gave an example of a mall shooting, where a man wearing a hockey mask, all black and body armor walked through the parking lot, through Macy’s and into the food court before he started shooting people. “He could’ve been caught in the parking lot,” said Tran. “[If] you got a guy walking with a hockey mask, looking like he’s ready to go to war, you better be running or doing something. Don’t just assume nothing is going to happen.”
According to Tran, the reason it is important to think about these situations in advance is that it is very hard for people to think rationally when they are in danger. When a person perceives danger, it prepares to engage in strenuous physical activity. This is more commonly known as the fight or flight response. “But the problem with that kind of preparation is that is that we have lower cognitive thinking,” said Tran. “Our frontal lobe, which sort of separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, allows us to reason. Well, unfortunately, blood flow to the cognitive frontal lobe decreases during a fight of flight response.” Asking and answering “what if” questions can train the rest of the brain to know what to do.
The answers to these questions result in three different actions. Someone can either run, hide or fight. Tran stated that fighting should be used as a last resort, but it depends on the situation and the individual.
As well as knowing what to do, Tran stated that it was important to be sure of survival. He said that when they interviewed survivors of active shooters and asked what they were thinking, almost all of them said “I will survive. I am going to keep going.” Making decisions and being sure of survival are important when in a situation with a dangerous intruder. “You have to do it, don’t rely on someone else,” said Tran.