Seattle officials are hosting a series of seminars this week to help people respond in a mass shooting like the Orlando massacre.
Avoid the gunman, seek a barricade and, if necessary, fight back.
Those are some of the lessons Jeff Geoghagan, a Seattle police SWAT team officer, preached Tuesday afternoon at an active-shooter training session, where dozens of local event coordinators and workers learned how to deal with a deadly situation on the job.
The Seattle Police Department and the city’s Office of Film and Music organized the hourslong seminar for large-scale outdoor event workers in light of the June 12 massacre in Orlando in which dozens were killed and injured at a gay nightclub.
More safety tips
For additional resources to prepare for an active-shooter situation, go to www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness
“It’s reasonable to ask the question, ‘Am I safe? Is my family safe? How does this impact me?’ ” Geoghagan said to the crowd in the Capitol Hill event room, referring to such mass shootings.
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The session, filled with tips ranging from how to spot a potential shooter to how to respond if violence erupts, followed a similar lesson Monday for employees of local dance clubs, bars and music venues. The event Tuesday reached capacity and organizers had to turn people away. On Wednesday, Capitol Hill’s Neighbours Nightclub is hosting a seminar for the public, due to high demand.
The Orlando shooting “reverberated across the country,” said Seattle police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. “People are interested in seeking out information in readiness.”
This week’s training sessions come as Seattle prepares for its annual Pride parade on Sunday and other celebrations at bars and parks throughout the weekend that generally draw tens of thousands to celebrate the LGBTQ community and its allies.
Seattle police cite five active-shooting situations in the city over the past decade, the most recent in 2014 at Seattle Pacific University, where a gunman killed one student and injured two others. Authorities define an active shooting as a situation in which someone is trying to shoot people in a confined, populous area.
Geoghagan’s lesson Tuesday included sobering facts: The average duration of such a shooting is two minutes, though SPD says its average response time to a priority-911 call is six minutes, he said.
That’s why it’s crucial for people to know how to protect themselves and others in the time it takes officers to arrive.
“Law enforcement cannot be there fast enough,” he said. “People become incredibly reliant on calling on 911.”
And once officers are at the scene, their main goal is to end the threat, Geoghagan said. They will not stop to help the injured, he added. So it’s crucial for people to remain calm and move away from the shooter.
Training for the public
Neighbours Nightclub is hosting a public training event on how to deal with an active shooter, at 5 p.m. Wednesday at 1509 Broadway E. on Capitol Hill.
Seattle’s Office of Economic Development and Office of Film and Music
One attendee, Esther Tepkhoom, 32, an intern for Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce, said having the tools to respond will ease her mind, not only as an event professional but as a mother.
She is helping to coordinate Columbia City’s annual Heritage Parade in mid-August, which draws thousands.
SPD says it has increased security for Pride events and other large gatherings, much like other organizations nationwide. Law-enforcement agencies across the country, too, are hosting similar active-shooting seminars in light of Orlando.
“Our message to the community is we want people to be confident,” Whitcomb said. “We want people to be prepared. We want people to have the skills should the unthinkable happen.”