Local law enforcement and training expert weigh in on ways to prepare for active shooter incident

Active Shooter Preparedness

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - It’s a sad reality we now live in. Do you know what to do if you’re caught in an active shooter situation?

Mass shootings are occurring continuously, from places of worship to music festivals, schools, bars and shopping centers. There’s no telling where it can happen next and as Marc Pezzella said, ‘Don’t be paranoid, be prepared.’ He has an extensive law enforcement background and now he trains people on the Suncoast how to be prepared for a situation where their life or home is threatened.

“Stay calm. Make decisions and act," said Pezzella. “We talk about attitude, skill and knowledge. It’s an acronym we came up with, A.S.K."

Attitude is having the confidence to defend yourself and your family, which comes from prior preparation. Skill is being efficient in any way you choose to respond, whether that’s running, hiding or fighting. Knowledge includes knowing your self protection rights and the plan you need to have in place beforehand, if the worst case scenario unfolds.

If it does, the quicker you can see something or someone bad coming, the more time you have to respond.

“During the incident, the quicker you can be alerted to it, the better off you’re going to be," said Pezzella. "Then, once you’re alerted to a problem, you need to react. When I say react, I get very passionate about this. If you’re going to run, run like hell. If you’re going to fight, fight like your life depends on it, because it most likely does.”

When you call for help, the deputies at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve trained with other area agencies to make sure they’re ready.

“The threats are real, they’re there and they’re happening all around the world right now," said Sergeant Gregory Cramer, crime prevention and homeless outreach team at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. "So your main thing is just to make sure that you’re safe.”

Safe and aware at all times.

“Know where your exits are, not the one you just came in. See if there’s another exit to get out, just in case," Sergeant Cramer said. "Look at people around you. Most people, people-watch anyway, so you just pay attention. If something makes the hair stand up on your neck, pay attention to it and go with your gut.”

He also reiterated how important it is to make a plan with your family now. This can even mean practicing in your home, teaching your children how to hide, or run and if necessary, when to fight.

For more information on how to respond to an active shooter from the Department of Homeland Security, click here.

There are additional resources here.

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