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Luther staff receives armed intruder training

Dirk Umbanhowar, Staff Writer

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In response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida as well as other recent mass shootings, Luther sponsored two one-hour-long training sessions on March 13 in Valders 206 to educate staff on what to do in the event of an active shooter on campus. The training sessions were led by Assistant Dean of Student Life and Director of Residence Life Kris Franzen and Director of Campus Safety and Security Bob Harri.

“Over the last decade we have seen active shooter situations in movie theatres, concerts, trains, restaurants, and schools,” Franzen said. “We train people how to respond to a fire alarm or a storm warning for their personal safety. Giving people tools and trainings on how to respond to an active shooter just makes sense.”

Franzen and Harri taught staff in attendance about early intervention, specifically reporting students who show concerning behavioral signs to threat-assessment hotlines and the campus emergency notification system.

The main goal of the training sessions was to teach staff how to run, hide, or fight in the case of an active campus shooter. In the sessions, Franzen and Harri screened a Department of Homeland Security video showing the different courses of action for this situation. These included evacuating the building if possible, barricading the room and remaining silent, and fighting the shooter and distracting them if needed. This last strategy was demonstrated by an activity in which staff members threw tennis balls at someone trying to shoot a basketball into a hoop, representing how distraction can throw off a shooter.

Harri said he hopes the training session will make staff feel more prepared for an emergency.

“Our hope would be that those who attended now feel more comfortable with how they might respond in an active shooter or armed intruder situation,” Harri said. “Hopefully they are more aware of the steps they can take not only to respond to such an occurrence but what we can all do to help prevent it from taking place.”

Staff members who were in attendance said the session was informative and useful.

“The concept of run, hide, fight was a simple way to explain your options,” Assistant Director of the Career Center Dan Marlow (‘88) said. “I did not [previously] understand the importance of having an escape route and using it in this type of a situation. When I got back to the office, we had a good group discussion about what our best route would be in the event of an intruder.”

Executive Assistant to the President Sally Ming also attended and agreed with Marlow.

“I am concerned for the safety of the campus, I am concerned for the safety of the students and I’m concerned for my own safety,” Ming said. “By holding this, I feel like I’ve got more information so that if the unfortunate happens, I’ll be able to make better choices about what to do. I feel more safe now because I’m better prepared and have more information to handle that type of an unfortunate situation.”

While no students were in attendance, student Paige Gartzke (‘18) appreciated that staff were trained.

“I think it’s good to be prepared for anything,” Gartzke said. “Learning how to defend yourself is like learning how to swim: you’re not always going to be in the ocean but you have to be prepared for it. I think it’s good that we’re taking steps to protect our campus from harm.”

Franzen was pleased with how many staff members attended both meetings.

“I was happy with the turnout,” Franzen said. “It would be nice to be able to offer sessions open to anyone in the community that would like to attend more sessions if there is interest or requests.”

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