PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) Part 3:
Alert. Lock down. Inform. Counter. Evacuate.
A training program that prepares you for the worst, an active shooter, but you don't just sit and watch a movie on it.
"With the online, you're not going to get the real-life situations that we put you in, the pressure and the anxiety that we put you in and how you're going to handle that situation in real life," says Vienna Police officer, Adam Jones.
Recently, I went through this training with a group of teachers in Wood County.
"They're all nervous. They're afraid. They don't know what to expect," says Wood County Schools Safety Coordinator, Don Brown.
That wasn't the case for long.
"As we progress through the class, the videos, and then we get into the scenarios, it's amazing to see them come from, "I'm not sure what to expect," to "Now, I'm taking back the situation. I'm going to be in charge. I'm not going to let the bad guy do this to us,"" says Brown
The training is different for each school.
"Every school's architecture is different. You have to be able to have a plan that's specific for you. Your classroom, your school, your exit procedures, and that follows Wood County policy as well," says Jones.
We learned how to barricade a door with every day items, what to fight with, and how to get the shooter's gun.
You can get this training online, but it doesn't do it justice.
"It's just not a paper-pencil kind of training. You need to be actively involved and experience the actual training itself because it makes you think, "What would I do in this situation?" says a Lubeck Elementary teacher, Amy Bailey.
When we left the training, the teachers had some time to reflect about how they would protect their students.
"I showed my students how to open the emergency exit window. I showed them how to pull a chair over so they could step up and be able to get out the window and made sure they knew how to do that if we needed to get out quickly," says first grade teacher at Lubeck, Alicia Dearth.
"We were definitely filled with adrenaline. It took us a while to wind down afterwards. Your mind is racing, thinking about, when I go back to work tomorrow I need to check this and can I move this shelf and cover my door and is my emergency window working properly? Do my kids know how to open it and will they know what to do?" says Bailey.
The training doesn't give you all the answers, but it can help you evaluate a situation quicker.
"I don't know what you would do if you were ever really in that situation, but I definitely have a lot of ideas of what I should do. I just hope that if I'm ever faced with that I would remember the things that the guys taught us and do what I can to keep myself and my students safe," says Dearth.
This training doesn't only apply to schools.
"This can be used anywhere. This can be used if you were walking down the middle of the mall, or at your normal work and place of business. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the schools. A lot of the information is good for just all different sectors in life and occupations," says Brown.
We learned if we would run, hide, or fight when faced with the stress and anxiety of knowing our life is on the line.
Many of us sold ourselves short going in.
"Definitely surprised myself at what maybe I might be able to do in an emergency situation," says Dearth.
"Failure to react is deadly," says Chief Deputy Mark Warden of the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
We've heard of fire and tornado drills, but many people never thought our schools would have to go through active shooter drills.
It's a reality, and mandated by the state of Ohio in House Bill 178.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office executes these drills with the help of other local agencies and EMS to give schools the tools to survive these situations.
"I'm a firm believer that the training has to address multiple disciplines: the staff, the facility, the students, law enforcement who responds are actually implemented within the training and then EMS and fire will show up and conduct their triage. Then, after it's all said and done, the best part about training is you have to debrief and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. That's what you learn," says Warden.
The situations are realistic. A real shooter is walking through the halls shooting off rounds, and students assigned injuries laying on the floor.
Those in the classroom have decisions to make.
"Lockdown and how do you lockdown? If I'm in proximity to the threat what do I do? Do I get out? How do I get out? What do I do once I'm in lockdown? Things of that nature. I think it's very important that every school receives this type of training," says Warden.
Frontier is even discussing arming its teachers on a voluntary basis to protect themselves.
These situations put a lot of stress on students and teachers, but they're better prepared after going through a fake scenario.
"We heard the first shot, I immediately just slid my desk back and we all ran to the corner. Then, a certain three or four of us threw desks in front of the door and made sure it was shut and all the lights were out and stuff. We had our weapons and we were ready in case somebody tried to get in, says Frontier High School senior, Zach Cunningham.
The students say it felt real, whether they ran, hid or were a victim, all of them say their hearts were racing.
They say they will definitely take this home with them.
"Know where your exits are and know how to react in this situation. Just get out, if you can. If you can't, try anything you can to stay alive," says Frontier High School senior, Cala Curtis.
"Always know your surroundings. It can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. Just because you haven't gone through the training doesn't mean you can't be ready for it," says Cunningham.
Some of the classrooms baricaded, others fled.
That's the choice. They can run, hide, or fight.
Once they make a choice they have to commit.
"I don't want you tucking your ears back, running blindly down a hallway. I want you to be moving with thought. I want you to be moving, thinking, what would happen if somebody would step out in front of me down the hallway? Where do I go?" says Warden.
The sheriff's office says other than choosing to run, hide, or fight, the ultimate decision each person must make is if they are going to become a victim.
"Hiding under tables won't work. If somebody has committed themselves to come in here and do harm that's what happens.They will cause harm," says Warden.
Mass shootings, we've all heard of them.
Shopping malls, movie theatres, schools, and nightclubs, they've all been targets of active shooters in the past several years.
According to the FBI, from 2000 to 2015 there were 200 active shooter incidents in the United States alone, leaving 1,274 innocent people dead.
Questions are still lingering with family and friends of those lost.
Law enforcement is being pushed to reevaluate tactics.
"We learned a valuable lesson at Columbine. You don't set up a perimeter and you don't call a squad. We always learn lessons from fatalities and then we change our tactics," says Lt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department.
70% of mass shootings from 2000 to 2013 happened in commercial or educational environments.
The Parkersburg Police Department uses that knowledge to become familiar with floor plans all over the city and be better prepared if something like this were to happen.
"We don't want to, in a real situation, have to learn, have to decide, have to figure out where to go. We want them to have been here, be familiar with it, and know where they're going and how to get there. There's a different way to attack every problem and every problem has 6-10 ways to attack it," says Collins.
Law enforcement encourages everyone to really think about what they would do in these situations, and always be aware of your surroundings.
"Everybody has to make their own decision about whether they are in a position to take heroic measures if they're behind some attacker and have the ability to apprehend somebody. They kind of have to make that decision themselves," says Executive Director of the Peoples Bank Theatre, Hunt Brawley.
The Peoples Bank Theatre does have a program to protect everyone against active shooters, and the main goal is to get people out as quickly as possible.
The theatre has 8 total exits, four upstairs and four downstairs, and armed personnel on staff, but they depend on visitors to say something if they see something.
"We hope we don't have to become hyper-vigilant about something like this, but we are taking precautions and doing what we have to based on, unfortunately, what we've seen happen in other parts of the country," says Brawley.
Based on new findings, more and more people are being trained on how to properly handle an active shooter situation, and they're learning what they would do if they are put in that position.
"We used to teach lock down, cower down, be silent, but we've found out that's definitely not the way we want you to do things anymore. There are other avenues that we need to be more aggressive with and sometimes it's hard for people to understand. When you see the wheels turning in people's heads about what I have in my room, or in my office to fight with, where would I go to, what doors would I use, what would I do. You see those wheels turning, you really understand you're starting to affect their life and the thought process they have for an active shooter," says Collins.