Program designed to teach participants how to respond

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SHIPROCK — Students and staff members at Diné College completed an active shooter training session on Friday that was designed to help them better understand and be prepared for such an incident if one were to occur on campus.

Adrian Lewis is the security supervisor for the college's campuses in Shiprock and Crownpoint, and served as lead instructor for the training. Lewis has been instructing the training sessions for two years, and he said it is designed to increase awareness about active shooter situations, including how to respond, the role of law enforcement and recognizing potential workplace violence.

"It takes knowledge to know how to protect our classrooms, protect our staff, faculty and students. Because when we're here, we are our own community," he said.

Diné College has its main campus in Tsaile, Arizona, and operates other campus sites in Shiprock and Crownpoint, and in Chinle, Tuba City and Window Rock in Arizona.

Approximately 25 students and staff members from Shiprock and Tsaile attended the session at the college's south campus in Shiprock.

Since the campuses are located in rural areas and response time by the tribal police can be delayed due to available personnel and travel distances, it is necessary for students and staff members to take extra steps to react and respond to active-shooter situations, Lewis said.

Those steps might involve providing first aid or fighting the shooter, he said.

"As far as here, as a reservation, we're going to be addressing the threat. We're going to be triaging the wounded and looking after ourselves until law enforcement responds," he said.

The all-day training consisted of presentations, programs on self-defense techniques and first aid, and role playing active shooter scenarios.

Participants learn about self-defense and go through the scenarios because it helps them get outside their comfort zones and to think about how to respond to situations, Lewis said.

Cherokee Dee, a campus security officer at the Shiprock campus, discussed firearms as a way to help participants learn to recognize various types and to understand their role in active-shooter situations.

At one point, he asked participants to close their eyes and listen to the loading of a shotgun.

Dee told participants that familiarizing themselves with the sound or appearance of a firearm can help with identifying weapons used by a shooter, Dee said.

This was the third time that Andrea Nez, the college's residence life coordinator, had attended active-shooter training. Nez brought eight student advisers and an intern from Tsaile to the session.

"Every training I go to is different. Since I work with students at the dormitory in Tsaile, it's always good for me to be aware of new situations that could occur," Nez said.

She added she uses the training lessons to increase safety at home.

"I'm happy I'm learning. That way if something were to happen, then I can protect the students and the people that are around me," Nez said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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