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 Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren thanks Detective Brian Fountain, of the Detroit Police Department, for his presentation on defense against active shooters Dec. 12 inside the Southfield Pavilion.

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren thanks Detective Brian Fountain, of the Detroit Police Department, for his presentation on defense against active shooters Dec. 12 inside the Southfield Pavilion.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Southfield hosts active shooter defense training

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published December 18, 2019

 Southfield Fire Department Capt. Melissa Medici discusses the best ways to help an injured person following an attack.

Southfield Fire Department Capt. Melissa Medici discusses the best ways to help an injured person following an attack.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — You could be anywhere when the shooting starts.

At work, at the store, at church or even relaxing at the movies.

The Southfield Community Coalition hosted a safety presentation Dec. 12 in the Southfield Pavilion to help residents better prepare, should they be caught in an active shooter situation. 

Detroit Police Department Detective Brian Fountain gave an interactive presentation featuring live simulations of active shooter situations.

Capt. Melissa Medici, of the Southfield Fire Department, took the audience through a training program, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives.” The program teaches residents how to help save lives during life-threatening emergencies.

“I want to start off by saying how important this is,” Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren said. “These events are becoming more and more frequent. ... It’s time for us to prepare our community with ways to survive or increase your chances of surviving these attacks.”

Fountain gave an interactive, animated presentation, using humor to break the tension.

He defined an active shooter as someone who wants to shoot as many people as possible in a public place. Their main goal is to be remembered, he said.

“Right now, we have about six to seven people in their basements — right now. They’re trying to outdo Las Vegas,” Fountain said, referring to the October 2017 shooting at a concert in the city. “In Las Vegas, 58 people were killed and 627 people were wounded.”

Fountain said that 37% of active shooting situations are over in five minutes, and 63% are over in under 15 minutes.

“You have to outsmart the shooter for around five minutes,” he said.

The first step to outsmarting a shooter, Fountain said, is to be aware of your surroundings. Notice when something or someone is out of place, and make note of all exits.

It’s also important to know what the discharge of a firearm sounds like, Fountain said, because many people caught in an active shooter situation have said they thought the shots were fireworks or a door slamming.

Fountain had a volunteer from the audience dry fire a handgun to demonstrate the sound a gun can make.

Fountain referred to “run, hide, fight,” a  phrase used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for active shooter situations.

“The first thing I want ya’ll to do is run,” Fountain said.

The best thing to do is run out of the building, if possible, Fountain said. It’s OK to disobey signs that may say “employees only” or “do not enter.” As you’re running, it’s important to stay low to avoid being caught in the line of fire.

“Hesitation will get you killed,” he said. “Bill me later. Break all the rules.”

If it’s not possible to leave the building, Fountain said the next best thing to do is hide. You can run into a room, shut and lock the door, turn off the lights and stay away from any doors and windows.

If you can barricade yourself in the room, that can buy time, he said. It’s also important to remember to keep as quiet as possible.

“I’m hunting with sight and sound. I’m not going to find you if you’re quiet,” Fountain said.

Rope, scarves, a belt or cords can be used to barricade the door so that the active shooter cannot turn the handle. Use tables, chairs — anything in the room to block the door as best as possible.

If the shooter breaks through your barrier, Fountain said your best chance of survival is taking out the shooter as they enter.

“Get him at the door,” Fountain said.

A fire extinguisher, keys, scissors, an umbrella or even a coffee pot can be used to defend yourself against the shooter. Go for their head, eyes, neck or groin and don’t stop until they’re incapacitated, Fountain said.

Fountain did a simulation using members of the audience. He acted as the shooter and had the audience members practice how to take him out.

Medici talked about how to best care for injured people until first responders arrive.

When it’s safe, the most important thing to do is call 911. Don’t assume somebody has already called.

If possible, move the injured away from danger and apply pressure or a tourniquet to their wounds. Help them breathe and provide comfort.

“We all can provide comfort to someone in need in that type of environment,” Medici said. “That’s something we all can do.”

A full video of the presentation will be posted to the city’s YouTube page, Southfield Multimedia Services, officials said. Residents can also access information on life-saving measures at fema.gov.

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