(HELENA) Employees at the Montana Secretary of State’s Office got hands-on training Wednesday to prepare them in case of an attack by an active shooter.
Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jay Nelson led two days of training at the State Capitol, along with other instructors from MHP and the Helena Police Department.
Nelson emphasized the motto “Run, lock, fight.” He said the first priority if there is an active shooter should be to get out of the area. He said the next best option is for people to secure themselves in a room, while fighting back should be the last resort.
Employees practiced skills like barricading doors, selecting improvised weapons and disarming attackers.
The training culminated with simulated attack scenarios employees had to react to. Warnings were posted around the Capitol to let people know the sound of gunfire was part of an exercise.
Secretary of State Corey Stapleton said the training comes in response to a number of violent incidents in public places.
“We work in the people’s Capitol,” he said. “It’s a great place for democracy, and we also have an obligation to protect this building and the people who work in it.”
Stapleton said active shooter attacks are a real risk of modern life, and it’s important to prepare for them just as someone would for an earthquake, fire or other natural disaster.
“Really this training is about letting people be empowered to make quick decisions – in many cases to save property, potentially to save lives – but also just to give a reassurance that we have a plan,” he said.
Stapleton says his office is the first in the Capitol – and one of the first in state government – to hold this type of training.