JOLIET – A training session at the Will County Courthouse on Friday focused on what to do in active shooter incidents.
And, the advice was to do something.
“Doing something is better than doing nothing,” Lewis University Deputy Chief Mike Zegadlo told an audience of judges, bailiffs, clerks and other staff Friday at the Will County Courthouse.
Zegadlo said national studies have shown when someone is trying to kill as many people as they can find, those who take any kind of action are more likely to survive than those who freeze up.
“What happened in Chicago [a shooting Thursday in a downtown office] has to give pause and show why this is important,” Judge John Anderson said.
More than 400 courthouse employees have attended one of Zegadlo’s mandatory training sessions.
“It’s very tempting to ignore the remote possibility of a [planned attack], but I don’t think that’s the right way to approach this,” Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt said.
While the courthouse has metal detectors, X-ray machines and armed sheriff’s deputies, it also has a lot of people involved in cases who can become agitated, Schoenstedt said.
“Because this building is so crowded, there’s a lot of contact when people are highly emotional. [It could escalate] from someone intending to do harm with scissors or a pen,” Schoenstedt said.
Zegadlo acknowledged that discussion of a shooting attack makes his audience anxious, but believes it’s similar to fire safety.
“Most of us will never be involved in a building fire, but we have sprinklers and fire extinguishers because the consequences could be catastrophic, and this is the same idea,” he said.
Like a fire drill, the best recommendation for an active shooter situation is to evacuate first, then call 911, Zegadlo said.
“You can’t be harmed when you’re not there anymore, so that should be your first thing,” he said. If that isn’t possible, you should find cover and prepare for a confrontation until you have the opportunity to escape, according to Zegadlo.