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MACKE: We wait to prepare until things hit close to home

It’s apparently very common that we wait to start preparing for an emergency situation or event until we see one hit close to home.

Since 2001, there have been hundreds of attacks on civilians that have taken countless lives. Churches, night clubs, schools, musical events, etc. have taken center stage when it comes to “Active Shooter” events.

But it was not until last month, when the Capital Gazette in Maryland was attacked and ultimately five employees died, that newspapers across America began discussions that other industries started years ago after other active shooter events targeted their industry.

For some reason we always think, “It can’t happen to us.” But it can and has. And you will never know when it might.

On Wednesday, the Port Arthur Police Department arrived at The Port Arthur News office to train our employees on “Civilian Response to an Active Attack.”

The two-hour training, which started at 10 that morning, was simply awesome. Lt. Jeremy Lloyd and Detective Hershel Whiting were engaging, professional, organized and invited discussion.

The video presentation was in depth. Actual 911 calls from past incidents were shared and the change in our employees’ demeanor and emotions while listening was eerie, but needed.

Through the training, employees learned about the mindset of an attacker as well as the mindset of a civilian not prepared for such a situation. As Whiting put it, “The body will not go where the mind has never been.” Meaning, if you don’t think about a situation, plan for a situation and practice for a situation, your body will not react properly when confronted with a situation. That gives the civilian a much slimmer chance of surviving such an attack.

I know that sounds morbid. But it is 100 percent true. Families that lose their lives, or the life of a family member from a house fire often have never held a fire drill for those in the house. Much less, they didn’t even talk about how to handle it.

Although we often hear about school campuses being attacked, it was interesting to hear that over 50 percent of all attacks that have happened since2001 are at locations of commerce — businesses. Yet, we are just now looking at making our business safer for employees and customers alike.

We immediately began to put our plan in place, and after talking with Lloyd and Whiting, feel confident that if in the unfortunate event our employees will be faced with an attacker of some sort, they will feel more confident to handle themselves properly. We will practice, regularly. We will adjust plans as needed.

The reality is, this is the world in which we live. It has changed much over the past 20 years. The need to watch out for those that may be on the verge of heinous acts is apparent every day. And it is very sad that we must feel like that. But it would be much sadder if we did not.

I recommend that any business, facility, functioning group, etc. do this preparation. If you have not had this type training, do so.

The Port Arthur Police Department is ready and willing to help you, your friends, co-workers, family members, students and employees. If interested, contact Lloyd at 409-983-8690 or by email at Jeremy.lloyd@portarthurtx.gov.

If you don’t live in Port Arthur, contact your local law enforcement office. I am sure they will be just as willing to help.

Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News.