In light of the tragic event that occurred in Sutherland Springs, many citizens of Atascosa County feel the need to know how to protect themselves should a situation happen in the area. To better prepare citizens for such tragedies, the Pleasanton Police Department in conjunction with the San Antonio Police Department and Reality Defense Incorporated hosted a free Active Threat Brief for Civilians from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the Pleasanton Civic Center.
“We want our community to have a basic understanding of what to do in such a situation,” Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez said, “The hope is to build a strong foundation for them to act on.”
Leading the seminar was Jesse Noriega of the San Antonio Police Department. “You are here to participate in your own rescue,” he told civilians. Noriega has been with the SAPD for 17 years and is a part of their S.W.A.T. He began by informing the crowd that times are different and instead of relying solely on law enforcement, we need to assist each other when situations such as a shooting occurs. Noriega gave a brief summary and history of how S.W.A.T. was invented in 1966 and how police officers were to wait for them to show up to a scene to take care of the situation. Since then, police officers have been given a new responsibility: to save citizens at the cost of life or death. “Believe it or not at that time you were not the priority, we were the priority. We live in a different age and we have switched that around: YOU are the priority,” Noriega said.
He gave percentages of where active threat encounters mostly happen -53% in businesses, 25% in schools, 14% in large venues and 8% in places of worship, homes, parties, etc. He wanted to show how citizens usually only hear about the ones happening at schools in news as it is the one place that hits close to home for them because of their children.
The major point of the seminar was to show citizens how they can help out law enforcement in active threat encounters. A common theme of “unarmed citizens saving lives” came about in the seminar as Noriega described multiple scenarios where the victims were the ones who helped save lives and stopped the culprit such as in Flight 83- the hostages fought back. “It takes about three minutes, that’s an actual average, for police officers to get to an active threat encounter and be effective,” said Noriega, “You have tactics to help out law enforcement in that time.” It is important to know details of your location, the shooter, the weapon, etc. In turn, Noriega named three stages victims typically go through- Denial, Freeze or Flight and Decisive Action. In order to be effective enough to help officers and fellow victims in overcoming these stages, citizens need to ask others around them questions, slow their breathing and act.
Noriega advised citizens to know information such as what kind of gun the shooter has: long or short? This information helps officers know if they need to put on that additional protection that can save their own life. Also, if they get put on hold when they call 911, leave the line open because they might have vital information the dispatcher can pass on to officers. Victims also need to stay out of long corridors and hide, barricading all exits to the room they are in and to not open the door for anyone. “When police show up, it is up to you. It is your life,” Noriega said, “They know how to breach so they will tell you they are going to breach the door and rescue you.”
He also suggested using a tourniquet to help save wounded victims in the area. This helps stop any blood flow leaving the body from an open wound. “You have to help us stop the dying,” Noriega said, “This is how you start your healing process.” He ended the session by listing a few training and certification programs citizens can further look into to learn detailed information and opened up the floor for questions.
Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez concluded the seminar with a few statements, “Half a plan is better than no plan at all. We are hoping you took something with you tonight that you will never have to use in your life.” Chief Sanchez also said they are looking to hold the active brief seminar again next year for citizens as it was helpful and vital information for the community to know. For more information on training and certification programs or questions about the seminar, contact the Pleasanton Police Department at 830-569-3869.