COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "I think it needs to be talked about more," said Ashley Jones about preparing for the horror of potentially facing an active shooter.
"It's something, unfortunately, that everyone's having to face."
The threat of a shooter, Jones said, can appear at her Greystone Properties office, at the movies, and even at church, wreaking havoc and taking lives in split seconds.
This concern drove Jones and some of her coworkers to attend Columbus police's latest active shooter seminar, titled, "What Would You Do?"
Columbus Police Lt. Tim Wynn said ordinary citizens can act to save lives in this potential crisis by having a plan and training their minds to react.
"Citizens have to be aware of their surroundings. If your brain is not conditioned, a lot of times, you're not going to react well to things of this nature," Wynn said.
Wynn, CPD Chief Ricky Boren, and other officers shared their own situational awareness strategies with the seminar crowd composed of parents, coworkers, and ministers.
Leamber Williams, who also works for Greystone, said she came away with one helpful reference should she ever find herself in an emergency.
"Make sure," she said, " that I know where all the exits are." It's a tip Williams said she's eager to share with her boss. "I'm going to talk to my manager when I get to work tomorrow."
For Jones, who previously worked for the Harris County Sheriffs Office in Houston, TX, the seminar provided a reminder of other strategies she can implement in her office.
"Having panic buttons," Jones said, "making sure everyone's aware of those panic situations, or using what's on your body, or in the building, the room that you're in."
Williams, Jones, and the crowd inside council chambers at the City Services Center, said they walked away from the conversation with three key choices suggested by CPD in the event they encounter an active shooter - run away from the bullets, hide and barricade themselves from the shooter, and if all other options are off the table, fight for their lives.
"What you do does matter," Wynn said. "You've got to do something because, you're in a life-and-death situation at this point, and something's got to be done."
If you have questions for police about emergency preparedness plans, more strategies or material on responding to an active shooter situation, call the Columbus Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit at (706) 653-3173.
For further reading on how private citizens can prepare and face an active shooter, visit the Department of Homeland Security's website.