I didn’t grow up with active shooter training in school. Tornado drills, yes. Active shooters, no. Unfortunately, this training is now common for students of all ages and employees in all workplaces. It’s a conversation you have with your friends and family when you go to a movie theater or concert. Our new reality is that an active shooter situation can arise anywhere.
ej4 and ProActive Response Group
ej4 has partnered with ProActive Response Group to create active shooter training. PRG provides on-site active shooter training and emergency medical response training to companies, schools, and other organizations. We combined the industry expertise of 24 years in law enforcement from ProActive Response Group and our award-winning instructional design to create these compelling training videos.
While our courses are typically filmed in front of a green-screen with a presenter and graphics, this course was also shot live in our offices with actors, local law enforcement, and ej4 employees. Over three days we had cameras filming various scenarios: regular office activity, the initial shots, employee reactions, law enforcement engagement, the takedown, and the post-event medical training.
Day One of Filming
The first day we were filming was the anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting. The second day there was a shooting in South Carolina, where our partners, ProActive Response Group, live. They knew some of the people involved. The week I wrote this blog there was a shooting at a grocery store, a yoga studio, and a synagogue. This is our new reality. It’s sad but it doesn’t have to be paralyzing. We can’t walk around in fear all day.
A View from a Non-Actor’s Perspective
My first scene was in a casual meeting in the conference room with several coworkers. The doors were shut. We started out joking with light conversation. Behind the closed doors the crew dropped a ream of paper on the wood floor to simulate the gunshot. They wanted to capture the jolt of our genuine shock and surprise. My hands began sweating as I felt stress in my heart and throat. I was imagining this really happening and my body was reacting with real tension in my breathing. This was in stark contrast to my initial excitement to being asked to volunteer for this role, I thought it would be just like any other day at work, but it wasn’t.
Next, we had to prepare to take him down. I was positioned on the side of the door that would be first in the line of the shooter. Putting myself in the mindset: I envisioned using my laptop to swing up and hit his gun or hands so my colleagues could tackle him. That is if he doesn’t shoot through the frosted windows in the conference room door and kill me first.
I had another scene where I am instructed to get the “bleeding control kit.” (Note, this is not the standard first aid kit). I had to run in front of the camera with a focused but concerned expression. Just the name of the “bleeding control kit” is a bit of a mind trip. If you have one of these, you may save someone’s life while you wait for the first responders. Even if you don’t have one of these available you will still gain information to create a makeshift kit of your own, like using a belt as a tourniquet.
A View from a Bystander
I work in an open environment. My desk overlooks a wide hallway. Trying to squeeze in some work in between my scenes was difficult. I faced the four law enforcement officers walking in formation down the hall, looking to clear the office and search for the shooter. Full gear. Helmets, vests, guns, belts (no live ammo). Over and over.
Another scene filmed in front of me was a coworker with fake blood dripping down his arm, desperately yelling that he had been shot. To my surprise, the officers walked past him, as their first priority is to search for the shooter and to prevent further violence. As he continued to beg for help he applied his own tourniquet and slumped to the floor while officers walk past. After we completed the scene, I helped clean up the fake blood drops on the floor with a Lysol wipe. Again, a weird visual thinking about the situation where the blood might actually be real.
Leaving the office that day, I definitely felt a sense of relief as I breathed in the fresh air and exhaled. I don’t think I realized how tense I was all day. That night I did not sleep at all. I tossed and turned. Mind racing. At 1:30 a.m. I emailed myself some ideas for this blog. In retrospect, I think it was stressful putting myself into this frame of mind because I had no plan if these things really happened.
The Finished Product
While watching the training videos that were a product of this stressful day, I immediately felt empowered. Even before the script mentioned empowerment. The idea of having a plan for survival puts some control in my hands. Thinking about having a survivor’s mindset and situational awareness starts to build some confidence in this situation. Having a plan helps to reduce anxiety.
I am incredibly proud of my coworkers for their roles in these videos. Everyone went “all-in” with their emotions and vulnerability. The scenes are realistic because we are real people. We recorded in our offices, our kitchen, and conference room. Our local law enforcement officers were especially convincing in their roles. Several local actors balanced out some of the acting needs.
This training puts a practical plan in the back of your mind. The idea of situational awareness is something you can use every day. Training your employees on these active shooter topics can literally save lives.
You can watch a brief clip of each course here:
- Incident Awareness and Threat Recognition
- Responding to a Threat
- Life-Saving Medical Training
- Interaction with First Responders and the Aftermath