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Thursday, May, 15, 2014 – 2:02:08 PM
Retired officer highlights options for violent encounters
By Melissa Murray
Kitchener Post staff
According to Gary Askin, a retired Waterloo Regional Police Service investigator, every kid needs to be a stakeholder in their own safety.
And it’s a message he is trying to spread. (see video here)
Last Thursday, Askin presented a workshop to a group of Specialist High School Major Program students at Conestoga College about emergency preparedness and what they should do if they are confronted with a violent encounter.
It was just recently that Askin realized students are taught only one thing if there is a lockdown — hide, lock the door and turn off the lights.
“It’s kind of an outdated policing perspective, but it only looks good on paper,” he said.
But people have options, whether that’s in a school setting or in an office.
Askin promotes three different options for people faced with a violent encounter, like an active shooting: run, hide or act.
It’s a method unlike what he said is currently being taught in schools and is based on FBI and Homeland Security training.
“We’ve got to change the model. Frequently, the best option is to get safely away,” he said.
“I’m not sure why that option was never given to kids.”
Askin said some training could have saved the students in the South Korean ferry disaster last month.
Many who died listened to the ship’s captain and remained on the ferry until it sank, while others saw help on its way and opted to jump into the water.
“It is so sad to see other kids wait for help that didn’t come,” he said.
After working with WRPS for more than 30 years, Askin said emergency preparedness is something he is passionate about and is really needed. His workshop also covers what to do in the event of a fire, flood, earthquakes and other disasters, but much of the focus is on violent encounters.
“The chances are you are more likely to be injured in a violent encounter than a fire,” he said.
But when it comes to acting, he said that doesn’t necessarily mean a fight.
“It could mean throwing a stapler. You do what you have to,” he said.
Askin is hoping to spread his message through local high schools and also in area workplaces.
“Kids are entitled to know their options and have to fight for their lives. I know it’s scary, but the alternative is worse.”
“If a shooter lines students up and starts firing and your kid is number five, fighting for their life might be their only option . . . giving up should not be an option,” he said.
Since 2011, Conestoga College has brought in more than 1,500 students for workshops like Askin’s, according to Mike Diamond, manager of corporate training at the college.
A variety of workshops, including safe food handling, basic boating and smart serve courses have been offered previously.
That assortment is what engages students.
“The variety means they will strike a cord with somebody,” he said.
And Askin hopes something from his presentation will help the 16 students as they finish high school.
“I hope when they leave they have the confidence to make good decisions. Now they should know what to do to survive.”