Public encouraged to attend “Surviving an Active Shooter” forums in Lacey, Olympia

Active-shooter drills have become ways that law enforcement, fire and school officials prepare for dealing with a gunman or mass shooting.

But what can families and members of the general public do to be better prepare for the unthinkable?

That’s what officials plan to answer during two separate community forums slated for this week at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey and South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia.

The free events, titled “Surviving an Active Shooter,” are open to the public and organized by officials from Thurston County’s local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, Medic One, three colleges and Homeland Security Region 3.

“We spend a lot of time in the emergency response community preparing for these (types of situations),” said Lacey Fire District 3 chief Steve Brooks. “...We feel like the next important step is to help our community better prepare.”

The forums will include remarks by law enforcement and fire officials, a kid friendly video, a question-and-answer session for participants and refreshments. In addition, Thursday’s event will mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack with a joint honor-guard presentation.

“We’ll have a moment of silence and commemoration of our nation’s tragedy,” said Jesi Chapin, coordinator for Homeland Security Region 3.

Chapin said active-shooter events are “something families should talk about” because having a plan in place and knowing when to run, hide or fight can save lives.

Chapin and Brooks said the forums are needed because of incidents such as the Clackamas Town Center shooting outside Portland in December 2012, which killed three people; and the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting in July 2012, which killed a dozen people and injured 58 others.

“We’re really hoping to especially get families in there, to develop a plan on what to do,” Chapin said.

The forums are meant to increase public awareness on the issue, and precede a full-scale, active-shooter drill that will be held at South Puget Sound Community College in April, Chapin said.

The first forum will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Saint Martin’s Norman Worthington Center, 5300 Pacific Ave. SE, Lacey. The second will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at SPSCC’s Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia.

Reservations are not required; for more information, call Chapin at 360-867-2826.