Salvation Army employees in La Crosse receive active shooter response training

LA CROSSE, Wi. (WEAU)-- The Salvation Army in La Crosse closed both of its locations Friday morning to provide active shooter training to all of its employees.

Salvation Army employees learned how to properly cover a bullet wound and run.

They brought in Vistelar, a company that specializes in conflict training, to conduct the session.

Employees at Salvation Army felt the training came at an appropriate time.

"Unfortunately, active shooter situations are becoming more prevalent especially here in the United States, so it’s really easy to say ‘it will never happen here. It will never happen to La Crosse’ but, what if it did?," said Alex Riley, media relations for Salvation Army La Crosse County.

During the four hour training session, Vistelar taught not only how to escape in an appropriate manner and disarm a shooter, but also how to be mindful of one's words to keep the event from happening at all.

"They explained to us not only what to do in those types of situations, but how to prevent that type of situation from happening in the first place," Riley said. "What to say and how to resolve an issue before it leads and escalates to a more fatal problem."

Topics included how to stay calm while alerting 911, how to create a tourniquet from every day objects like a phone charger and how to flee, not hide.

When fleeing an area where an active shooter is present, Vistelar recommends running in a zig and a zag pattern and never a straight line.

"Make that person have to chase you," said Vistelar co-founder Dave Young. "You make them have to pick one person, so if I’m running with my wife, my wife is zigging while I am zagging. If we run together, we create a bigger target overall."

Employees also learned how to cover an injury and run and how to safely escort children out.

Vistelar has been training the Marine Corps in active shooting response since 1988 and for civilians the last five to seven years.

"Empowerment starts with education," Young said. "People who panic aren’t educated. People who have anxiety, haven’t been trained. I think through training and education you can really empower people to make the right decisions under stress."

Vistelar says it is important to take the time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of any building you spend a significant amount of time in.