Crash course against active shooters trains teachers

RIO HONDO — Jesse Vargas stood in front of more than 100 school teachers and employees and asked them if they had ever heard of Victoria Sotto.

No one in the room recognized her photo beaming on the overhead projector.

Vargas said Sotto saved her students before losing their life during the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The teachers in the room were quite and listening to Vargas’ every word during a course for Rio Hondo ISD employees about what to do as a civilian during an active shooter situation.

Vargas explained survivor’s mentality and talked to them about how the body reacts during stressful situations, what to do during an active shooter situation and how to handle a situation if there is no way out of the building.

His best tip to the group was to get out of the building and don’t stick around to find out what happens.

Vargas is the regional police academy lead instructor and he presented a three-hour course to the district employees about what to do in the event an active shooter storms the school.

Vargas said the first thing to do when you see someone with a gun is to get out of there.

He said if there is no way out, barricade the door, hide to the side of the door window and look for something to use as a weapon against the bad guy.

“The training was to remind teachers to be aware and to have a survival mentality,” said Nick Garza, Rio Hondo ISD police chief. “It’s important for them to help themselves, their students and know how to work with law enforcement during an active shooter event.”

He said now everyone in the school will plan and be ready to do whatever they need to do to survive in an active shooter situation.

“It was a very, very informative course,” said Laddie Bahr, a RHISD intermediate school teacher. “It was a good training, and I liked the survival mindset training, which was reinforced throughout the course.”