Dr. Bill Worden wants to make sure people are prepared if they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation.
“It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when," he said. "We just hope it’s not you, or I, or someone else, but it may be, so we need to know what to do."
Worden, who has served as the medical director for more than a dozen emergency rooms in Oklahoma, organized the David Wade Memorial Active Attack Conference in Oklahoma City.
The conference is named in honor of an Oklahoma deputy sheriff who was killed in the line of duty in 2017. It brings together police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and dispatchers to work together to better respond to active attack situations.
Worden has also taught a class that focuses on helping regular people prepare for that situation.
“We teach law enforcement to go to the battle. They’re trained to go in and find the threat and stop the threat," he said. "You or I, as the general public, the teaching there is to get away and avoid the situation."
Worden's most recent class for civilians followed the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on the Fourth of July.
Nearly 900 people logged on to watch the class online.
Worden teaches "Avoid, Deny, Defend." The method was developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Program at Texas State University and is supported by the FBI.
Worden says people should first "avoid" an attack by having an exit plan and being aware of their surroundings.
"Deny" means knowing how to create space from an attacker by being able to barricade a door.
"Defend" is doing whatever it takes to survive.
Worden says he wants people to come away with the knowledge of how to think in the real world.
“The first thing is don’t deny it’s happening," he said. "The most common mistake that people make is they will hear something that they think is a gunshot and their mind will process that into a firework or a lawnmower backfiring or a something and I think we have to get away from that denial and think the bad stuff first, 'This is a gunshot, what do I do?'”
He says it's important always to have a plan, especially when people go somewhere they have never been or where their guard may be down, like a restaurant or a concert.
“I also think about, 'Where have the waiters gone to the kitchen?'" Worden says, "because I know there is an exit in the kitchen."
Worden emphasizes being prepared is not the same as being paranoid.
“I think once you have the mindset that things are going to be OK, but to make them OK, you need to understand what you need to do if the events occur," Worden says.