LAKELAND (fOX 13) - During a training session Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and deputies armed residents and business owners with information on how to survive in an active shooter situation.
The training carried more purpose for some residents as they reflected on the latest mass shootings in recent months. Many consider the horrific scenes a new normal.
“It’s a scary thing to feel like you’re always on edge,” said Carolyn Phillips, who attended the session to learn how to protect herself.
Phillips and her husband sat with more than 100 others to learn from Polk County deputies the technique of run, hide or fight and what else to do when there’s an active shooter nearby.
“Not a Sunday service or any service that I go into that building that I don’t wonder is that the right place to be because behind me is where the shooter is going to come in,” said Phillips.
The latest attack on a house of worship was at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and this week there was a shooting that killed three people at Chicago hospital.
The frequency of the shootings had led Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to adjust what they teach the public.
“We used to teach just run, hide, fight. Now we’re teaching you have to be armed,” said Judd.
Deputies said the shootings are over in 5 minutes or less, and that’s the average time it takes for law enforcement just to get there. So the Polk County sheriff said regular people who are trained to carry firearms have a choice.
“So, if you hear firearm shots up front and you are not armed to protect yourself and someone else, you need to run for the exit,” said Judd.
For those attendees who do carry firearms, they said they want to learn what they should and should not do.
“How do I react to that? It’s one thing to be at the range with a pistol in your hand. It’s another to be in a live situation where there’s something that’s happening,” said Michael Kilcher, a Polk County resident.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has done the active shooter training for over two years and posts future training sessions to its Facebook page.