Early Wednesday morning, more than 40 representatives from businesses around Helena filed into the Chamber of Commerce for a short training seminar about how to deal with an active shooter in the workplace.
Led by Sgt. Clint Pullman and Sheriff Leo Dutton of the Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s Office, the training focused on protection in what Pullman called the “very unrealistic scenario” of an active shooter.
Pullman had five volunteers show off their new-found skills at the end of the training as they prepared a room for defense against a shooter. Using door wedges, frozen water bottles and other materials that were in the downstairs kitchen, they simulated defending against an active shooter.
“Run, Lock, Fight,” was the tri-part response to any shooting situation as Pullman explained. Getting away from the situation is the best choice, while hiding behind locked doors and fighting are less encouraged in such a situation.
“I’m not advocating everyone have an AR-15 leaning against their desk,” Pullman said to laughs, but “this is primal stuff.”
As part of the Chamber of Commerce’s Wisdom Wednesday series, the active shooter training was a collaboration between Dutton and Cathy Burwell, who is the chamber's president and CEO.
“We bring local experts to do short trainings that are valuable for businesses,” Burwell said. “It could happen in Helena, and anything we can do to be prepared we will.”
Dutton said it was important that Helena’s law enforcement was focused on working with the Helena community.
“We want to empower citizens, give them a voice and a choice,” he said after the training had finished.
“This is a two-day class condensed into an hour and a half,” Dutton cautioned. “People are going to make a choice to commit to live, become a survivor instead of a victim.”
Pullman said that workplaces should have dialogue about what to do in the event of an active shooter.
“Talk about issues, have an open discussion with employees and the work group. There’s no such thing as over-preparedness," he said.
That kind of planning could be essential if something terrible did happen.
But for now, it’s luckily just training.
“We’re lucky to have super trained officers, and it’s awesome to get them to come in,” Burwell said.