Sheriff begins active shooter training for Luzerne County employees

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — The hope is Luzerne County employees will never have to put the training to use. But if there is ever an active shooter, they will be better prepared.

Luzerne County Sheriff Brian Szumski led a small group of county employees through a two-hour training session Tuesday on the best ways to survive such a situation.

While only about six county employees were at the session — from various domains of county operations, including representatives from Children and Youth, Veterans Affairs and court reporters — Szumski said all employees will receive the training before the end of the summer.

Szumski said the sessions will continue through July, with two in August. Attendance is mandatory for county workers.

“I actually like the smaller groups better,” said the sheriff. “You can interact with them more.”

Szumski asked employees to adopt a mind-set that he said is common in law enforcement — “I’m going home tonight” — and to do anything in an active shooter situation to make sure that happens.

Szumski said there are three basic strategies people can use: run, hide and fight.

Those who run try to get away from the situation as quickly as possible, leaving the wounded behind.

“We want you to get out of there,” he said, adding that you should keep your hands visible to indicate you aren’t a threat to any law enforcement you may encounter on your way out.

Those left without a clear way out will need to hide. Szumski asked those attending to scan their workspaces to learn how or where they could hide. He also suggested that office photocopiers could be rolled in front of doors as a makeshift barricade.

The third option — fighting back — is an “absolute last resort,” said Szumski.

“I don’t like saying this as the head of security for the building, but there are a lot of things in your office you can use as an improvised weapon,” he said.

The training, implemented by county Manager C. David Pedri after May’s bomb scare at the courthouse, will culminate with several active shooter drills, where employees will evacuate while a “shooter” fires blanks.

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By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

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Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan