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How to survive when gunman opens fire
Officer says it's vital not to freeze
Police Sgt. Ben Cantrell gives survival tips when an active shooter strikes.

The worst thing you can do is nothing at all should an active shooter barge into your church, school or workplace.
That’s advice McMinnville Police Sgt. Ben Cantrell wants people to remember when he gives his active shooter seminar. He provided tips during his visit to McMinnville’s Noon Exchange Club on Tuesday that can help you survive an active shooter predicament.
“When something stressful happens, people lose their minds,” said Cantrell, noting the seemingly illogical reactions most people have to an active shooter situation. “First there is denial – this can’t be happening – then there’s deliberation and then there is decision. The quicker you can get through the first two stages to making that decision gives you a greater chance of survival.”
Cantrell, who leads the local Critical Response Team that would go in during an active shooter situation here, points out there is no profile of a shooter. “They do have an avenger mindset with a fictitious ax to grind. They think they will go down in history as some kind of hero.”
However, the truth is mass killings have become so common they have become white noise to much of the public. Incidents like Sandy Hook in 2012 when 31 teachers and school children were killed tend to turn the public’s awareness back to the dangers of active shooters, Cantrell noted.
Cantrell pointed out the most common form of mass shooting happens in commerce, meaning at a workplace, mall or public business. “Over half of mass shootings happen at commercial places, with a little over 20 percent happening at schools.”
Cantrell said most active shooters are looking for soft targets where people are unarmed and want to pile up the body count. Their success, he explained, is often helped by the way the human body responds to stress.
“You become tunnel vision, lose dexterity, fine motor skills and ability to speak clearly, you have time distortion and your heart rate and blood pressure go up,” Cantrell said, pointing out there are a few thing you can do to kind of prepare yourself. “Stay fit is one thing because when a situation happens like this and your heart rate goes up, you’re used to it through your exercise. Take deep breaths and use mental scripting beforehand by imagining what you’d do if someone walked in with a gun. And, shift your emotions during an event. Instead of being scared, get mad.”
Cantrell recommends the public use the memory aid of ADD – avoid, deny, defend.
“By avoid I mean get out. Know where the exits are and if you can get out, do it immediately and call 911 once you’re out,” Cantrell said. “By deny that means, keep the threat out by locking the door and barricading it. Stay out of sight and put your phone on vibrate so not to give away your location to the shooter.”
If worse comes to worse, Cantrell said you may have to defend by fighting. Doing nothing and hoping for mercy, Cantrell said, is most likely to result in death.
“Position yourself in such a way the shooter cannot immediately see you,” Cantrell said. “Grab the gun or find something to use as a weapon. Don’t fight fair. Do whatever you have to do.”
Cantrell said that most of all a person must react quickly and not linger in the denial stage. A quick reaction increases the likelihood of survival.
“Once a decision is made, go with it and act with purpose,” Cantrell recommended.
Both Ben Cantrell from McMinnville Police Department and school resource officer Jarvis Johnson are available to speak to any church, business, civic organization about surviving an active shooter situation. The seminars generally take about two hours but they can also deliver the abbreviated version for assemblies with time limitations. Anyone wishing to schedule an appearance should call McMinnville Police Department or Warren County Sheriff’s Department.