No one wants to find themselves in the midst of an active shooter situation, but there is local help available to increase your chances of surviving such an encounter. Chatham County’s three biggest law enforcement agencies, the Sheriff’s Department, Chatham Police Department, and Savannah’s Police Department, all offer free active-shooter training sessions according to Gary Taylor, training Director for the Sheriff’s Department. Taylor says churches, businesses, and organizations have been taking the courses for several years because of the growing frequency of the deadly acts of terror. Taylor cites federal statistics, “From 2000 to the end of the year 2017, there’s been, FBI statistics, there’s been 250 act, active shooter incidents in the United States. That’s not world-wide, that’s the United States,” said Taylor
More than 20 organizations signed up over the last year alone according to Taylor, “By us coming in it helps people develop a plan, um, and having a plan is a huge advantage in a situation, because if you don’t have a plan, like I said, the panic sets in and then people do start doing things and making decisions, taking action that’s not rational and it lends to play in the hands of the active shooter,” Taylor said. He adds there’s three prongs to their training, including making the decision to run, to hide, or to fight. It also covers what police expect when arriving at the scene and it includes a threat assessment of your facility, “We look at where you’re vulnerable, look at your where your strengths and your weaknesses are if you were faced with an active shooter situation. Help make recommendations to help strengthen security, facility security,” said Taylor.
The training is vital according to Taylor because preventing an active shooter attack is virtually impossible, “It’s random. Their victims are random. There’s no methodology of why they choose the victims they choose. That’s what makes it so challenging.” Taylor said. He adds a lot of organizations wrestle with the question of how do they offer the training without scaring their people. Taylor says you want to let people know that the training is about being prepared and formulating a plan of action, should the worse-case scenario unfold. The active shooter training is available to churches, schools, businesses and other organizations in Chatham County free of charge. Anyone interested in receiving the training can call the sheriff’s office at (912)-652-7795 and ask for Gary Taylor or Lieutenant Gary Murphy to schedule a training session.