Active shooter – would you know how to survive?


Photo by Leo Strong

On Sept. 8, at the MATC Downtown Milwaukee campus, Shari Olszewski, coordinator of emergency management, speaks to staff and students during the Active Shooter Workshop on how to stay safe on the MATC campuses.

If you see something, say something

It can happen anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It happened at Columbine, Virginia Tech and even Sandy Hook Elementary. And it can happen at MATC as well. An active shooting can occur in the blink of an eye and we must know what to do in order to survive.

On Sept. 8, students and faculty attended a workshop that was run by MATC’s Public Safety department on how to react in the event that an active shooter is on campus. Workshop coordinator Shari Olszewski said that MATC is pretty safe, the biggest problem we have here is theft, and that is because students are leaving their belongings unattended. We have lower crime statistics compared to the other colleges in Milwaukee, but no one is immune to a shooter coming on campus.

Workshop attendee Jessika Hinds said the workshop was very informative in preparing students and faculty for the upcoming lockdown drill that will be happening on Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

An active shooter is someone who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined space. There is no pattern or method to their victim selection. Sometimes the motives behind the shootings are never found out. In 40% of all active shootings the motive is never found out because the shooter has either been shot by police or committed suicide before they were asked about a motive.

So what can students and faculty do if an active shooter comes onto MATC’s campus and starts shooting? There are some very simple steps to take to survive.

First of all, keep a “survival mentality.” If you tell yourself you will make it out, chances are greater that you will. And STAY CALM. There will be chaos all around you but try and stay as calm as possible.

Turn off all lights and lock the door. If the door cannot be locked, barricade it with whatever you have. Once the door is locked, do not open it for anyone. Hide behind overturned desks and help the disabled. Position everyone in the room to be able to attack if the shooter should enter the classroom. Use whatever you can find to attack if needed.

Silence your cellphone but don’t turn it off as MATC’s Public Safety will be trying to contact students about the lockdown via the RAVE system.

If you are not yet signed up with the RAVE system, go on MATC’s website and sign up. It is a quick way for Public Safety to get in touch with you in the event of an emergency.

Also, program MATC’s Public Safety number in your phone. The number is 414-297-6200 for emergencies and 414-297-6588 for non-emergencies. Contacting Public Safety is a faster way to get help to you than calling 911. Public Safety knows the layout of the school and can dispatch the police. If you call 911 you will have to know the exact address of the building you are in.

The risk of being struck by lightning is more likely than an active shooter coming on campus, but it can happen. Being prepared is the key. If you see something suspicious, say something. Talk to a counselor, Student Life, anyone you can before it’s too late.