RI hospitality workers get trained on active shooter situations

LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Restaurant, hotel, and tourism workers have a unique situation for their workplace — and need to take unique precautions to prepare themselves for a mass shooting, said Rhode Island State Police Lt. Derek Borek Wednesday. The Rhode Island Hospitality Association held an active shooter training session for employees and supervisors from around the region at Twin River Casino, in order to train their own workers to guard against a potentially deadly situation.

Employees from more than a hundred local restaurants, hotels, country clubs and other establishments attended Wednesday’s session.

Among them was Jules Olley, the general manager of the Point Judith Country Club. He told a reporter he knows the impact of an active shooter: “Somebody I know had a relative in the Newtown school shooting, and it was a situation that we never believed would ever happen… I think in this day and age, in the world in which we live, we need to be more cautious and protective of our guests, clients, [and] customers.”

Earlier this year, a study from the University of Alabama found nearly one-third of the world’s mass shootings happened in the United States, though we only represent 5 percent of the world’s population.

Olley felt it was his own personal duty to attend, not just in his business role. “I think as an employer and as a citizen as well, I think we need to safeguard the well-being of those around us.”

“In the hospitality industry it’s — unique to the situation, where they’re in a lot of different venues,” said Lt. Borek. “[Workers are] not just in one specific venue where they can prepare themselves all the time. They have to be prepared for all types of different venues.”

The Hospitality Association’s Dale Venturini said it was important to prepare workers. “Our goal is for them to be prepared and to have knowledge about it because it’s an issue that’s just not going away.”

Among the conditions attendees considered were when to run, when to hide, or when to fight, and how to identify warning signs of a potential problem — or be proactive in helping a troubled person seek help.

The State Police also encouraged businesses to establish “safe rooms” — and to create communication protocols in the event of an emergency.

One statistic covered in the session: Nearly three-quarters of past active shooter incidents have happened in businesses.