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The New Normal: Being Prepared For An Active Shooter Event - A Local Expert Offers Advice

Aug 5, 2019

Presidio of Monterey Training Exercise: Active Shooter
Credit Presidio of Monterey

Just like we've been trained for a fire drill or other emergencies, local groups and organizations are now receiving training for active shooter crises or how to deal with an aggressive intruder.  89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Dr. Kenneth Wolf.

Dr. Wolf consults on Threat Management, Protective Intelligence, and Crisis Response Strategies.  He is a fully licensed clinical psychologist in Michigan and is the Executive Director of the Incident Management Team.

He recently taught an active shooter survival course in Saline about the growing reality of being prepared for such a disaster.


Many are worried after the most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio about what they should do if they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation. 

Dr. Kenneth L. Wolf, who regularly consults workplaces and community centers on active shooting preparation, recently taught a seminar on how to prepare and deal with an active shooter in Washtenaw County.  Dr. Wolf has recently hosted a program funded by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration with Saline Public Schools to teach Washtenaw community members about active shooter survival.

Dr. Wolf shares that, according the Department of Homeland Security, the best thing you can do during an active shooter event is to run and escape the kill zone.  If you cannot do that, Dr. Wolf then suggests hiding and seeking shelter that you can barricade yourself behind.  The very last resort should be to engage the shooter with an improvised weapon.  The best time to engage the perpetrator suggests Dr. Wolf is when they’re either reloading, turning their back on you, or setting their weapon down.  “You only have seconds to seize the opportunity to either evacuate or engage,” says Dr. Wolf.

Although Dr. Wolf mainly works with adults in active shooting training, he does tailor his training to be age-appropriate for school-aged children.  He says that he believes that active shooter drills should be just as regular as fire and weather drills in schools and community centers.  He feels that middle and high school children can have more aggressive training because they have the physical skills to handle an active shooter.

Dr. Wolf stresses that you are the first responder if you are in an active shooter situation because the average police response time is 3-15 minutes, while the average active shooting event lasts anywhere from 1 to 5-6 minutes.  He encourages people to not freeze up from the initial shock of the event and to translate that shock into an adrenaline fueled response in enacting a plan. 

“Having a plan is very important.  In other words, 'What would I do,'” he states.  “Sit in your office and say 'If I see somebody with a weapon in the parking lot, what would I do?  If I hear shots in the hall, what would I do?'”  It is very important to talk about strategy in your workplace, school, church, or any organization about surviving a lethal shooting event, says Dr. Wolf.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu