CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
HORSESHOE BAY — Officials will close the Horseshoe Bay municipal complex for two hours Feb. 23 to conduct a drill to help first responders and Horseshoe Bay city staff arm themselves with training on what to do in an active shooter situation.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter situation entails an individual engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined or populated area.
“The events that go on we’ve seen over the years,” Horseshoe Bay Police Chief Rocky Wardlow said. “These events can happen anytime, anywhere.”
The local agency is coordinating the drill, scheduled for 3-5 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Community Drive.
“It gives the individual agencies such as police, fire, and EMS the opportunity to coordinate and respond with each other to a simulated situation,” Wardlow said. “Later on, we can evaluate both our individual and group response to such a situation.
“Not just first responders but the city employees may find themselves in similar situations somewhere else — say Austin shopping at the mall or a grocery store somewhere in town,” he added. “It gives them an idea how they should respond and what they can expect.”
Typically, first responder training has featured fire scenes and traffic accident simulations; however, a situation involving “deadly force” that affects staff and civilians could require a more varied response.
“Our officers have attended ALERT training, which is a similar type thing,” Wardlow said. “The police officers will go to active shooter training on how to conduct searches when a live situation is happening.”
While first responders will employ past training based on the impromptu scenario, city staff will not be apprised in advance of the details of the unfolding situation.
“It will involve the entire complex,” he said. “Probably, 35 to 40 people will be involved.”
According to FBI statistics, the number of active shooter situations is on the rise.
From 2000-2013, incidents spiked from two to four per year to as many as 18-20 per year, federal figures showed.
“We’re certainly not immune from that,” Wardlow said. “We don’t anticipate that happening, but we certainly want to be ready in the event that it did.”
The following are a list of initial response recommendations for civilians by DHS if an active shooter situation unfolds in one’s community:
• If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate.
• Have an escape route and plan in mind.
• Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
• Leave your belongings behind.
• Help others escape, if possible.
• Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
• Keep your hands visible.
• Follow the instructions of law enforcement.
• Do not attempt to move wounded people.
• Call 9-1-1 when safe.
2. Hide Out
• If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide.
• Choose a hiding place out of the view of an active shooter.
• Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (closed or locked door).
• Avoid trapping or restricting yourself from movement.
• Lock the door.
• Blockade the door with heavy furniture.