CLARION – On April 4, nearly 60 area residents attended “Developing a Survival Mindset: Preparing for an Armed Intruder.” The event, held at the Clarion Mall and sponsored by the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry, took attendees through possible active-shooter scenarios that are becoming commonplace around the world.
Rick Capozzi, of the Capozzi Group in Hollidaysburg, instructed attendees on how to identify possible attackers, move from being relaxed and unaware toward being ready for action, survive an active attack and call 911 effectively.
“Keep in mind that not all attacks are committed by people with guns,” Capozzi said. “There was a knife attack in a Westmoreland County high school last year that killed three students.”
Additionally, there have been hammer attacks, suicide bombers and unattended luggage masking explosive devices. More recently, vehicles have been driven onto crowded sidewalks with lethal results.
Capozzi said that much of the material he uses in presentations is available from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There were some surprises.
• 70.4 percent of active shooters in schools are 14 to 18 years of age.
• 75 percent of the shooters enter through the front door.
• In the U.S., 98.4 percent of shootings take place in gun-free zones.
• One-third of school shootings are in faith-based institutions.
• Churches are the sites of 10 percent of shootings.
Of the 60 attendees last Wednesday, about 20 percent were members of the First Church of God, located along Route 861 outside of New Bethlehem.
What should a person do if caught in the middle of an attack? Anything, Capozzi said, is better than doing nothing and becoming a victim. Running, hiding or fighting are the three options.
Running is the first choice if a bystander knows the locations of the nearest exits. Hiding behind a bullet-resistant barrier is a good choice if escape is impossible. The third choice is taking sudden and committed action.
“Attackers go through specific steps of observing, orienting, deciding and taking action — what is known as an OODA loop,” he said. “If you can disrupt the process at any of these points, the attacker has to start over from the beginning and loses time.”
Disruptions can take the form of yelling, “Gun, gun, gun,” tripping or manhandling the attacker, or throwing something to distract his attention. Active attackers tend to identify the easiest targets and give up when facing even modest resistance, he said.
Throughout the presentation, Capozzi and his son, Ben, along with several people from his office, staged sporadic simulated attacks on attendee targets. After the classroom portion of the training was complete, the action moved down the mall concourse and into the hallway outside the public restrooms. Capozzi’s associates pointed out good hiding places and gave an effective demonstration on jamming doors against intruders.
Then it was back to the vacant storefront serving as a classroom. Attendees received brief instruction in emergency first aid, improvising tourniquets from common items and carrying the wounded to safety.
“People don’t die during an attack in general,” Capozzi said. “They often die of their injuries due to blood loss. This is why it is important to stop the bleeding and get them medical help within the Golden Hour.”
During the Golden Hour, medical personnel can save nearly 99 percent of those with severe blood loss and other effects of trauma.
The main presentation ended at noon. A short afternoon session for law enforcement officers and members of the public with concealed-carry weapons permits concluded the session.