Wake County

Wake trains workers for active-shooting scenario

Mirta DeJesus was already concerned about getting hurt at her job, but the recent deadly shooting in California made it worse.

DeJesus works at a Wake County public health clinic in Raleigh where clients are often in bleak situations, and – though there’s security – she’s afraid someone might take their frustrations out violently someday.

“We’re put in risky situations every day,” she said.

So DeJesus was one of about 150 county employees who attended an event at the Wake County Justice Center on Friday where the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and other experts offered guidance on surviving an active-shooter situation.

Sheriff’s deputies and Dwayne Eury, head of Wake County Security, explained the best survival tactics simply and sequentially:

▪ Run. Get away from the violence and out of the building as soon as possible.

▪ Hide. If you can’t get out of the building, hide underneath tables or anything you can find that might be able to protect you.

▪ Fight. If you can’t get out of the way, or if the attacker finds you, do whatever you can to separate him from his weapon and survive.

“Use chairs, fire extinguishers, pencils ... whatever you have,” Eury said.

Several said they were surprised by Eury’s instruction to leave behind those who would rather stay and hide.

We’re always told in life to try to help people, but he said to move on for your own sake.

Annabella Johnson, who works at a public health clinic in Zebulon

“We’re always told in life to try to help people, but he said to move on for your own sake,” said Annabella Johnson, who works at a public health clinic in Zebulon.

The event was one of several sessions the county has held for its employees since early 2014, Eury said, and was scheduled before 14 people were killed in a mass shooting during a health center holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., earlier this month. Eury launched the sessions shortly after the father of a Wake County assistant district attorney was abducted from his Wake County home in what prosecutors have described as an elaborate, multistate kidnapping arranged by an inmate from inside a state prison cell.

Wake hasn’t had an active-shooter scenario in its facilities, Eury said, but that doesn’t mean it won’t someday.

There were 160 active-shooting incidents, defined as someone attempting to shoot and kill people in a “confined and populated area,” between 2000 and 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And there have been 54 in the past two years alone, according to USA Today.

About 1,500 of Wake’s 4,000 employees have gone through the training, and Eury hopes to ramp up sessions next year.

As he stood in front of the Board of Commissioners meeting room, Eury urged the audience to have a plan for such scenarios and to react fast.

“You’re not gonna think it’s real,” he said. “Look at the interviews from San Bernardino. Even with people shooting, they didn’t think it was real.”

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht