National Guard offers training for disasters, shootings

Starting in 2015, the National Guard began training communities for natural disasters, fires, and mass shootings.
National Guardsman Kevin Valenti shows a slide on emergency supplies.
National Guardsman Kevin Valenti shows a slide on emergency supplies.

U.S. Army National Guard Lt. Kevin Valenti opened a presentation Thursday about disaster preparedness with questions.

“Does anyone know what the first two things stores run out of during most natural disasters are?” he asked. 

The seven people gathered at the Schenectady Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing did not answer. (The next day, Valenti would present the same information to more than 200 people at Schenectady County Community College).

“Beer and bread,” Valenti said.

For what was otherwise a difficult presentation subject, Valenti managed to get those gathered loose and laughing before delving into best practices for natural disasters, fires, and mass shootings, which warranted a separate and lengthy session Thursday. 

“Statistically, we’re not doing this to scare you, but it is something that is becoming more common,” Valenti said of mass shootings.

After showing a video titled “480 Seconds,” referring to the average amount of time most mass shootings last, Valenti addressed the proverbial “good guy with a gun.”

“I will tell you this stat, and I was very surprised to find this out,” the guardsman said. “Sixty percent of active-shooter incidents are stopped by unarmed civilians.”

“Run, hide, fight,” is the “stop, drop, and roll” equivalent of the National Guard’s training for active-shooter situations, but Valenti cautioned against taking on a shooter when getting everyone to safety should be the first priority, even if one is armed.

“Any additional firearms going off just causes more confusion for law enforcement,” Valenti said.

The main emphasis of the program was planning for natural disasters and other disruptive events, as well as the way schools and businesses approach things like fires.

“There hasn’t been a major fire death in American schools in 60 years,” because of smoke alarms and fire drills, Valenti said.

The guardsman argued that the same approach for events like hurricanes and other natural disasters is the best way to mitigate loss in many other disaster situations. Finding a meeting point for family members if cellphone contact is lost, developing an exit plan, avoiding major highways when mass exodus scenarios occur and buying things like baby wipes and emergency blankets were all steps Valenti said may seem excessive, but ultimately pay off.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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