AUSTIN (KXAN) – Will Binford was the front office manager at the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin when, four years ago, a man walked into the lobby and opened fire. “Fortunately APD was on the scene very quickly, quicker than the median time” Mr. Binford said. He was the second person on the scene once police cleared the scene. Over the next few hours, he spoke with customers on the phone while at the same time helped his staff recover.
Today, Mr. Binford sat in a classroom with members of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, taking part in an Austin Police Department program preparing them for a possible active shooter. The program, called Civilian Response Active Shooter Event or CRASE, is especially important for businesses. According to the training, 44% of active short events happen in commercial spaces.
What to do during an Active Shooter
The training covered a variety of topics, but some key takeaways include having a plan and practicing it. Just like during a fire, there should be a clear alert system that works for both staff and customers. The staff should also practice drills several times a year. According to Austin Police, if people know where to go they are less likely to panic during an emergency.
Then there’s the Avoid, Deny, Defend mantra. If something happens, you should try to escape. If you can’t escape, hiding is good but be sure to lock yourself somewhere safe. The idea is not to conceal yourself but to get somewhere you cannot get shot. Also, you can defend yourself. Remember, anything is a weapon. Examples from the seminar included pens, chairs, or even fire extinguishers.
Finally, Mr. Binford pointed out that the aftermath of the attack is worth preparing for. Outside of the mental health issues that can arise after an act of violence, Mr. Binford said one of the things he witnessed was how long it took police to clear a crime scene. “A small local restaurant could be shut down for a day or two, depending on the size of the scene.” Business owners should take this into account when they develop their plans.