Every gym should have a Code Red for Active Shooters in their staff handbook. We have Fire Drill, Tornado Drill, and Bomb Threat Drills along with these Code Red instructions. These should be played out at least twice a year at staff meetings. You are doing your staff a disservice if you don’t give them the tools to handle any situation that could arise. Below are my guidelines for these serious (and hopefully never used) situations. Obviously, this is specific to my gym, but you could easily adapt it to yours. For more information contact Homeland Security at https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness.
It is also the responsibility of each of my employees to ensure implementation of these Code Red procedures below.
What is An Active Shooter?
An active shooter is a person actively engaged in attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10-15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives. Individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation. Good practices for coping with an active shooter situation:
-Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
-Take note of the two nearest exits in your facility
-If you are in the office, stay there and secure the door
-If you are in a hallway, get in a room and secure the door
-As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him.
-Call 911 when it is safe
If there is a gunman in the neighborhood or outside in the parking lot:
1. Teachers and office personnel will lock all doors and call 911. Tell them (if possible):
• Location of the active shooter and identity
• Number of shooters and direction of travel or location last seen
• Physical description of shooter/s-race, sex, age, clothing, etc.
• Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
• Number of potential victims at the location
2. Wait patiently until a uniformed officer gives the “all clear”
Notes: The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.
3. Unfamiliar voices may be an active shooter trying to lure you from safety; do not respond to voice commands until you can verify with certainty they are being issued by a police officer.
How to respond when law enforcement arrives:
Law enforcement’s purpose is to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area in which the last shots were heard.
• Officers usually arrive in teams of four (4)
• Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
• Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
• Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation
• Officers may shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety
How to react when law enforcement arrives:
• Remain calm and follow officers’ instructions
• Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
• Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
• Keep hands visible at all times
• Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding onto them for safety
• Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
• Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
• Keep calm. If you’re upset, that will upset your students and parents. The one and only thought is to keep everyone safe.
• Announce lockdown by telling the parents what is happening. Always tell the truth.
• Remove children from areas of doors and windows.
• Remain with your students. Let the parents come into the gym and be with their children.
• If you need to hide the children, go to the mini-trak and the trampoline area, where kids can get under the mats and trampoline, and there are no mirrors nearby. Keep all children away from the mirrors, windows, and doors.
Evacuation of building
1. If the police instructions are to evacuate the building, it’s imperative teachers take their kindles/cell phones with them to ensure all students are present (can be checked online through Jackrabbit). Students must exit and move far enough away from the building to allow sufficient room for all people to evacuate. Use all available doors. Follow these procedures even if it is raining or snowing. Get everyone out quickly.
1. Main Door
2. Outside door by the balance beams
3. Outside door by the shed
4. Outside door by the cubbies
5. Outside dance room door
2. If parents want to leave or come to the door and want to take their children home, do not stop them. You must, however, see ID to allow a child to leave if you do not know them.
3. Depending on circumstances, consideration may also be given to exiting ground floor windows as safely and quietly as possible.
If there is a gunman in the building:
1. Evacuate as described above
2. If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.
3. Your hiding place should:
• Be out of the active shooter’s view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door)
• Do not trap yourself or restrict your options for movement
4. If the active shooter is nearby:
• Silence your cell phone and/or pager
• Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
• Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
• Remain quiet
5. If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
• Remain calm
• Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location
• If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen
6. As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by taking these actions against the active shooter:
• Act as aggressively as possible against him/her
• Throw items and improvising weapons
• Commit to your actions
If an intruder approaches you:
Press the Panic Button in the upper left by the keyboard at the front desk. The button is a silent alarm that alerts our alarm company. They, in turn, call the Dyer Police Department. If an intruder walks you over to the alarm itself and tells you to disengage the alarm, just press 11299 (this number is located in red print on the actual alarm). It will just beep as if the alarm was turned off but actually it is alerting Alert Alarm to dispatch the police. For any other reason to summon the police, fire department, or an ambulance, you can either call 911 directly or press the buttons on the left and right side of the corresponding icon on the actual alarm.
Patti Komara owns Patti’s All-American Gymnastics in Dyer, Indiana since 1969 and has been named “#1 Best of the Region” for Gymnastics Schools by their local newspaper every year since its inception in 1994. Patti has also been a speaker for USA Gymnastics at national conventions every year since 1981 and has also led hundreds of training workshops.
Patti has produced over 80 instructional DVDs and has written books on yearly lesson plans for the internationally known Tumblebear Gym Program, School-Age Gymnastics, Dancing GymBears, YogaBears, CheerBears, Gym-N-Learn Educational Preschool, and Swim. All products can be found at tumblebear.com Patti currently has over 9,000 subscribers to her “Tumblebear Tips” eblasts and quarterly newsletter. You can sign up for it at tumblebear.com.