Chemeketa trains people to respond to active shooters


Chemeketa trains people to respond to active shooters

8:12 p.m. PST December 10, 2015

After attending Chemeketa’s active shooter response training on Thursday, Reshone Dean felt more empowered to address these attacks.

“The training helped me think not just about being a victim,” said Dean, a technician for the Center for Business and Industry. “It eliminated the powerlessness from the situation.”

Dean was among more than 20 people from the community who attended the training.

She participated as a volunteer in one of the scenarios, practicing fighting a shooter, should she ever need to.

She and four other women came up with a plan  to distract and attack the shooter.

“It seems like it goes against your normal reaction,” she said, referring to being told to go toward the shooter. “It’s a scary thought if there was a live gun.”

Bill Kohlmeyer, who lead the training, said confronting the attacker is specifically referring to an instance when someone cannot run or hide and must attack.

“It seems foreign to get closer to the shooter, but you need to get control,” he said.

This was one of many trainings the college’s new Threat Management Resources program will provide.

An active shooter is defined as an individual or multiple individuals intent on killing as many people as they can in as short of a time period as possible.

“Bad things can happen anywhere,” said Kohlmeyer, director of public safety at the college. “Our focus today is to discuss options no matter where you are.”

Kohlmeyer spent 30 years working for the Salem Police Department and now works with Rebecca Bolante, director of the college’s Threat Management Resources program, and others to prevent and respond to threats.

The training addressed worse case scenarios with active shooters.

Kohlmeyer said active shooters usually pick targets where there are a lot of people and places they think are not prepared to defend against an attack.

He said people need to be better prepared for such attacks.

“We have a responsibility to try and make schools (and other places) as safe as reasonably possible without turning (them) into some kind of prison,” he said.

There are many things people need to consider when an active shooter threat presents itself, such as the physical environment, if the doors are locked, are there outside doors that can be locked, are there signs in the rooms that have emergency numbers other than 911, is there an intercom system, are text message and alerts sent out, and what training and awareness and threat assessment management was done before the threat.

“Nothing that you do will be 100 percent fool-proof,” Kohlmeyer said. But he said small things, such as locked doors, can make a big difference.

For instance, Chemeketa has removed its left door handles so traffic can flow smoother and attackers cannot chain doors together.

“Our first step is and should be prevention,” he said. “I believe we do this first by creating an atmosphere in which people feel safe talking to someone when they see a friend or peer with emotional problems and warning signs.”

“Remember most of the campus shooters gave off warning signs that people ignored,” he said. “No one is a threat all the time and anyone in this room could be a threat in a certain situation.”

Kohlmeyer stressed that those attacking are in a certain mindset, ready to harm as many people as they can.

Kohlmeyer taught the trainees what Homeland Security teaches as well — run, hide, fight.

If possible, run as far from the situation as you can until you get to a safe space and call for help or until you can find secure hiding. Encourage others to come with you, but do not stay back if they are indecisive.

If you cannot run, hide. He said to secure a hiding spot, turn off lights, lock and barricade the doors, silence phones and ringers, and do your best to remain calm and quiet.

However, there are times when people cannot run or hide and may need to fight the attacker.

If that is the case, improvise weapons, act with aggression, and commit to taking the shooter down no matter what.

He said there are many things that can affect a shooters aim, such as stress, distance, noise, movement, and distractions.

If a shooter enters a room, people want to distract and attack as quickly and forcefully as possible, keeping in mind that there is power in numbers.

“You have a lot more power than you think you do,” he told the group. “You do not have to sit quietly.”

To demonstrate this, Kohlmeyer called up a handful of volunteers and had them work through different scenarios.

The more they distracted and attacked the shooter in a united force, the easier it was to get the weapon away from the shooter and stop them from killing more people.

Dean said she felt much more prepared to respond to an active shooter situation after the training and, having attended another training before, she said the more you take, the more know it.

“It helps to do these trainings to imprint the information on your mind,” she said. “That way you are more likely to respond than to become paralyzed.”

Though this training focused more on the fighting elements of active shooter situations, other trainings delve more into other preparations and responses.

There will be additional active shooter reaction trainings on Jan. 12 and Feb. 16 of the coming year from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

For more information, or to register for a training, call (503) 399-2555 or email The course costs $99., (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate or

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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