Mass Shooting Drill, for when those Cracking Noises Are not Fireworks

Visitors to the United States surely have a list of must-see places or uniquely American events to attend. Experiences like seeing the Grand Canyon, catching a Cubs game at Wrigley Field or participating in an Active Shooter Drill.

The University of Redlands held such a drill in the Orton Center. However, the word “drill” proved to be a little misleading as there was no fake blood, or fireworks simulating gunshots.

Instead, the event was an information session on what to do if caught in an active shooter scenario like the one in Orlando, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or during a country music festival in Las Vegas.

University of Redlands Public Safety Officer Tony Garell led the 45-minute presentation. During which, he explained the importance of understanding the surroundings when entering a movie theater or attend a holiday party for work.

Officer Garellstressed the importance of understanding that a mass shooting could occur wherever, and whenever. The urge to that the unlikely will not happen is called a normalcy bias, and Officer Garell went on to explain how it affects people during a mass shooting.

“This [normalcy bias] is something that most of us fall into,” Officer Garell said “suppose we hear something is going on outside this door. Maybe its fireworks, it could be gunfire, we don’t really know. But the natural tendency of our brain is to reduce that reality that it actually could be gunfire.”

Officer Garell continued advising the three smartest ways to act during a mass-shootings; run, hide or fight. For each option, a small explanation about when it makes sense to run versus hide, or when to fight instead of run away.

The nature of the presentation sunk in and the mood bleakened. The audience sat, dead still, eyes round and glued to the projector screen.  


The presentation broke down, and informed the audience of, military-like tactical skills meant to increase your chances of survival during a mass shooting — everything from counting exits in a room to applying a tourniquet to stop arterial bleeding.

However, did it work? Are students leaving paranoid and insecure? Alternatively, did students leave feeling informed and prepared?


When asked if she felt more prepared after hearing the presentation Junior Isabelle Pilato, said, “Yes.”


She went on to explain that this constant reminder throughout, that such a scenario could occur at any time, was nothing really that new to her.   


“It was something I started to think about my senior year of high school. All these events happened, and it has been a constant worry of mine. But I do not, and would not, want that to get in the way of my life,” said Pilato.


Interactions with the audience suggest that it is no longer safe to dwell on whether or not a mass shooting might occur. That ship has sailed. Instead, time should be spent checking to see if your classroom door locks from the inside, or out.