SOUTHINGTON — Participants in active shooter training took turns crouching near a simulated doorway, waiting to tackle an assailant as he walked through with an airsoft rifle.
Adults, teens and young children attended the free Friday evening class at Krav Maga Southington. The class taught participants to be better aware of their surroundings, how to apply a tourniquet and fight an attacker as a last option.
Robert Rand, owner of Krav Maga Southington and an army veteran, said he’s provided the training for several years but that interest is high in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
Rand stressed planning, situational awareness and taking action quickly to increase the odds of surviving a shooting.
“That’s the first part of preparing for an active shooter — acknowledging it can happen,” he said.
Rand told attendees that when out in public, he’ll make sure to identify exits and at restaurants will only sit at tables with a good view of the whole room. In any public situation, he urged the class to keep in mind how they would escape or slow a shooter.
“We go out to eat and I’m sure the kids think, ‘Where is dad going to make us sit this time,’” Rand said.
Attendees, many Krav Maga students, included families, teens and groups of friends. Patty Kisluk, a Plainville resident, said she began her interests in preparedness after a break-in at her apartment.
“It made me think things aren’t as safe as you think they are,” she said.
Kisluk trains in Krav Maga, a fighting style developed by the Israeli military, and wants to take more classes on first aid.
Friday’s course included training by Don Lanier, an EMT and instructor, on first-aid equipment and the proper application of manufactured and improvised tourniquets.
Rand said he wanted to give attendees a broad view of actions they can take to improve their chance of survival.
Since shootings are often short and police arrive within minutes, locking doors and slowing the attacker with barricades can save lives. Rand included the tackling exercise so that if other means fail, people would have a simple way of knocking down a shooter entering a room.
Mike Leone, a Southington resident, said the class reinforced his beliefs about handling such a situation.
“I had a mental picture of what I’d do, and I wanted to challenge that,” he said.
“If you can’t escape, you have to fight,” Leone added. “The more people who are willing to put up a fight, the less successful these mass killers will be.”