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Retirement Community Learns How to Survive an Active Shooter

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URBANDALE, Iowa –Violence can happen anywhere and people in one community are learning how to be proactive. You’ve likely heard of schools preparing for active shooter situations, but now other businesses are tackling the issue in what they hope would be an unlikely place.

Residents of Deerfield Retirement Community don’t like to think of something bad ever happening in their peaceful halls.  "Absolutely not, but it happens everywhere else. And, you never know when someone will go berserk,” said Marjorie Foss.

That's why a roomful of residents learned how to be ready for anything. "What's going on in the world today. I do feel safe at Deerfield, but I also feel we have to be aware," said Betty McCarl.

Bob Wirtz is the Director of Community Services.  He led this 45 minute discussion about how to survive an active shooter and said, "It's sad to think in a retirement community that we would have to have this conversation, but from my background, I can tell you we got to get over the thought that it isn't going to happen here."

Wirtz is certified in A.L.I.C.E., which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. It's what many schools now use to train for these types of situations, but Wirtz isn't aware of other retirement communities teaching residents about it.

"We have to get the information out to residents first and foremost. We have to teach them where to evacuate, knowing where the shooter is, and also counter if they're in immediate threat of a gunman in what to do in that situation," said Wirtz.

One setback for retirement communities is the counter part of A.L.I.C.E., which requires people to throw whatever they can at a gunman. "You have to teach them how to defend themselves with the objects they have around them, and it also has to be a group effort if there's more than one in that scenario. And, you have to teach them how to approach that gunman so you can save lives of others to increase survivability," said Wirtz.

It’s an eye-opening lesson. Foss said, "And we can pass it on to people who aren't here, but we do need to be aware what's going on around us at all times."

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