How Sandy Hook changed mass shooting responses

Six years after 20 children and six adults lost their lives in the Sandy Hook school shooting, law enforcement has continuously worked to improve rapid responses to crises like this one. CNN's Omar Jimenez reports.

Posted: Dec 15, 2018 5:17 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2018 5:34 PM

"They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own."

Those were the words of a teary-eyed President Obama on December 14, 2012, the day 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

It was a day that shook the country to its core. But it was also a day that fundamentally changed the way law enforcement and everyday citizens approach the unimaginable.

'It puts everyone on the same standard'

In 2013 the FBI partnered with a program known as ALERRT, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. They study mass shootings to not only help identify different types of contributing factors but also response tactics that can be improved.

"The Department of Justice started looking at programs that they could partner with to try to enhance training capabilities for response to school violence like Sandy Hook," said John Curnutt, assistant director at ALERRT.

CNN was granted rare access to one of their training sessions at an undisclosed location in Maryland.

"Movement down the hallway on the right!" yelled the FBI special agent leading the mix of federal agents and local and state police as they worked their way through a simulated scenario using paint bullets.

"It puts everyone on the same standard," said Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. "You could be from one agency and arrive at a scene and end up with someone from a different agency but if you've both been through that training then automatically you know what to do."

The intent is to minimize the time it takes to get in front of the shooter.

"It was important to make sure everybody received the same training, knowing that if that response occurs it's going to be a multiagency response," said Col. Nathaniel McQueen with Delaware State Police.

'For an average of three minutes it is up to you to survive'

Another major shift after Sandy Hook, also tied to ALERRT, came in how everyday citizens are trained on what to do in the initial seconds of what could end up being a mass shooting.

"In an average of three minutes those cops are gonna show up and they are going to take that shooter's attention from you towards them," said the FBI special agent leading a lecture requested by a private company. "Those three minutes belong to you, they do not belong to the shooter. For an average of three minutes it is up to you to survive."

"Avoid, deny, and defend" is what the agent stressed, offering strategies on everything from when to run to when running may not be an option. For example, if leaving is out of the question and a door doesn't lock, the agent talked about placing as much as possible in front of that door, positioning on the back side of it, and even taking "calculated risks" that the shooter is right-handed.

"He's going to come in, he's going to have to use his other hand to move this stuff out of the way and he's going to be holding this present out for you," said the agent. "What you need to do is grab it and hang off of his arm."

"Everyone wants to know. They want to learn. They want to hope to be the one that helps others to survive and they take it very seriously," said Claudine Adams, CEO of Bravura Information Technology Systems Inc., the company that requested what she called the "unfortunately more necessary" training.

During the presentation, the FBI said there were 30 active shooter events in 2017, which set a record, and that from 2016 to 2017 the number of events jumped by 50%, which they say also set a record.

'The paramedics aren't going to get there right away'

On the medical front, and in direct response to the shooting in Newtown, a national campaign called "Stop the Bleed" began. Through lectures and hands-on training, instructors teach adults and students how to apply tourniquets, pack wounds and keep the situation stable until first responders can arrive.

The campaign is an initiative of the American College of Surgeons and the Hartford Consensus, a set of recommendations on active shooter and other mass casualty events.

"The paramedics aren't going to get there right away," said Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, and one of the campaign's instructors.

According to the American College of Surgeons, people with severe injuries can bleed to death within five minutes. "This is a disease of time. The clock starts ticking when you get hurt, not when you get to the hospital," Scalea said.

Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify a statement made by Dr. Thomas Scalea regarding medical response time after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60101

Reported Deaths: 1689
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19057831
Ramsey7444265
Dakota4334104
Anoka3618114
Stearns288620
Washington207744
Nobles17626
Olmsted171823
Scott153218
Mower10992
Rice10298
Blue Earth9115
Wright8695
Carver8413
Clay77940
Sherburne7188
Kandiyohi6891
St. Louis52119
Lyon4263
Todd4242
Freeborn3591
Steele3451
Nicollet33313
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona25916
Crow Wing23214
Beltrami2230
Le Sueur2171
Martin2075
Chisago1991
Otter Tail1933
Goodhue1929
Cottonwood1770
McLeod1730
Pipestone1559
Becker1521
Polk1504
Waseca1480
Douglas1391
Itasca13812
Unassigned13741
Carlton1350
Pine1290
Dodge1260
Isanti1230
Murray1221
Chippewa1031
Wabasha910
Morrison891
Brown882
Faribault870
Meeker852
Rock830
Sibley832
Jackson810
Koochiching773
Pennington751
Mille Lacs713
Cass692
Fillmore640
Renville635
Lincoln570
Grant533
Swift521
Yellow Medicine520
Roseau470
Pope460
Aitkin401
Houston390
Norman390
Redwood360
Kanabec341
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall300
Mahnomen261
Wadena260
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake200
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle70
Cook30
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48398

Reported Deaths: 925
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10223207
Woodbury371652
Black Hawk311566
Linn234887
Johnson206719
Dallas187835
Buena Vista179112
Scott171614
Dubuque166531
Marshall143826
Pottawattamie131426
Story116014
Wapello88133
Muscatine84648
Webster8017
Crawford7273
Sioux6253
Cerro Gordo60917
Warren5571
Tama54929
Jasper47626
Wright4651
Plymouth4579
Dickinson3804
Clinton3793
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2553
Hamilton2461
Franklin23910
Bremer2247
Clarke1993
Emmet1914
Carroll1881
Clay1861
Shelby1831
Hardin1780
Des Moines1692
Marion1690
Poweshiek1578
Benton1551
Allamakee1544
Floyd1532
Jackson1511
Mahaska13917
Cedar1311
Guthrie1315
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Henry1203
Madison1182
Pocahontas1152
Lee1133
Lyon1132
Delaware1111
Cherokee1081
Humboldt1081
Harrison1060
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek951
Page940
Monona910
Kossuth890
Mills890
Palo Alto840
Sac840
Calhoun832
Jefferson830
Osceola830
Fayette820
Grundy791
Winnebago790
Mitchell780
Union771
Monroe727
Cass711
Worth660
Lucas634
Montgomery594
Davis551
Chickasaw540
Howard490
Appanoose483
Fremont420
Greene410
Keokuk341
Van Buren341
Adair290
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned70
Rochester
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Mason City
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Charles City
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Scattered Storms, Warm & Humid
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Rochester Area Restore celebrates 6 years

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

Grief mask making workshop

Image

Mace's Weather 8/8

Image

Tractor pullers excited to rev up their engines in 2020

Image

Need school supplies? Iowa tax-free weekend on clothes

Image

War hero remembered with motorcycle ride

Image

Families react to RPS's "Return to Learn" plan

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast- Friday

Image

Giving your best volunteer of the month

Community Events