TSTC takes proactive approach to emergency situations

BY Amanda Sotelo

With recent school shootings and always a plan on how to be proactive, Texas State Technical College recently hosted a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (C.R.A.S.E.) training for all students, faculty and staff.

The training was hosted by TSTC’s Police Department and presented by Sargent Eduardo Patiño.

TSTC Police Chief Aurelio Torres opened the training with a message.

“This training is not meant to scare you, but to teach you situational awareness,” said the chief. “By the time you leave today you will know how to create a plan and take action should the need arise.”

Torres added that an active shooter is only one of the many man-made hazards someone can face.

C.R.A.S.E. was developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program at Texas State University in 2004 and has since grown into a world-wide comprehensive training.

In April 2017, TSTC’s Police Department hosted more than 100 law enforcement officials from across the state for the C.R.A.S.E. Train the Trainer course. The first for the Valley.

At TSTC, nine officers in the police department are certified to teach this material.

“You are not helpless. What you do matters,” Patiño told his audience.

He reviewed the defined actions an individual can take in the face of an emergency: Avoid, Deny, Defend.

“If you can leave, leave. If you can’t leave, deny access by locking a door, creating a blockade and turning off lights and if you have to, defend yourself and those around you,” he said. “Our goal is to get you to deliberate an action, fight or flight. Don’t freeze.”

According to Patino’s presentation, there were 179 active shooter cases between 2000 and 2014, with an increase of shooter events at education and commercial entities through the years.

TSTC’s Provost Cledia Hernandez said it is TSTC’s goal to be proactive and equip the TSTC community with the information and training they need to be prepared.

“One well-trained person can make a difference and change the outcome of a situation,” she said. “If one can do this, imagine a whole team.”

TSTC allied health student Candie Cerda said the presentation was an eye opener.

“I never really took the time to think about what I would do in an emergency situation,” said Cerda. “After today I feel more prepared to take action during the unexpected. I’m also going to share this information with my sister who is a teacher. You just never know.”

Cerda went on to say that she feels safe at TSTC, but even though, she is pleased that the college hosts trainings like C.R.A.S.E.

TSTC works year-round to ensure the safety of the entire TSTC community by helping staff and faculty with department walkthroughs and assessments and making sure there is a plan in place.

The TSTC Police Department is also working closely with the college’s Student Government Association to create presentations specifically for students.

“Our job is to serve and protect and equip everyone with the tools they need to make the best decisions during an incident,” said Torres. “Being proactive is important and it begins by encouraging others to report suspicious activity and with training.”

To report suspicious activity on campus, call the TSTC Police Department at 956-364-4220.