West Hills Neighborhood Council, in partnership with the Woodland Hills-Warner Center and Canoga Park Neighborhood Councils, hosted a town hall on “Surviving An Active Shooter” on Wednesday March 27th at El Camino High School. Over 165 people attended the event, which was co-sponsored by the Canoga Park/West Hills Chamber of Commerce, and the Woodland Hills/Warner Center Chamber of Commerce.

LAPD Topanga’s Sergeant Cathy Riggs was the lead presenter. Sergeant Riggs is a Terrorism Liaison Officer and threat assessment specialist who is responsible for providing use-of-force, pursuit, and administrative investigation training to 230 sworn officers and 20 civilian police employees.

Sergeant Riggs covered the basic tenets of “RUN/HIDE/FIGHT” – a three-pronged response algorithm developed by LAPD in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security. RUN/HIDE/FIGHT represents the three possible options for action when faced with an active shooter or any other armed aggressor – whether they have a gun or not – who uses deadly force on others, and aggressively continues doing so while they have unrestricted access to additional victims. Most incidents are over in less than 5 minutes, which means that first responders may not have time to arrive while the situation is still active.

The evening opened with a powerful first-person account of the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival from survivor Rachel Morrow, who was hit three times in the chest and abdomen as one of the first victims of the violence there, and carried to safety by strangers Jake and Elena, who were also in attendance.

A 911 operator also spoke briefly during the presentation. She told the audience that you can now text – rather than call – 911, but that you must always include your location when texting 911, as their agents will only be able to get the location of the nearest phone tower from your mobile phone service provider.

Photo: LAPD Sergeant Cathy Riggs with members of the West Hills Neighborhood Council; EmpowerLA’s Semee Park; and survivors of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting