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WATERLOO — It is an unfortunate truth: Active shooter drills are a necessity today.

The Courier staff experienced that training Thursday morning with the help of the two officers with the Waterloo Police Department.

“If you have tornado plans, fire plans, you need violent intruder or shooter plans too,” said Sgt. Greg Erie. “It’s just a reality today.”

That reality hit home June 29 when a gunman blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md., with a shotgun, killing five people. The Courier drill was scheduled before that tragedy.

Officers instructed the staff on what to do if faced with an attacker — run, hide or fight.

“It’s important for corporations to have this kind of training, because these events occur,” Sgt. Brian Hoelscher said.

Hoelscher and Erie gave the staff a class, followed by an exercise that included blank rounds being fired to simulate the sound of gunfire in a building.

“There’s a lot of situations where people don’t know what to do,” Hoelscher said. “Just taking those simple steps and getting your people together and having them all in the know about having a plan increases survival rate.”

Waterloo police offer the training to any organization in the Cedar Valley. Other law enforcement departments do as well. Businesses can check with local law enforcement agencies for details.

There were no casualties in the Courier event; most employees ran or hid.

“I think everybody did well. I couldn’t find anybody,” Erie said. “One of the things we try to stress is when you hear the shots to get out as safely as possible, and apparently that happened today.”

Becoming a hard or invisible target in active shooter situations is key.

The Courier had contacted Hoelscher about the training prior to the Maryland attack, said Publisher Roy Biondi.

“We take safety extremely serious here,” Biondi said. “I would urge other businesses in the community to reach out.”

Biondi has been through a number of active shooter drills in different states.

“The Waterloo Police Department did an absolute tremendous job reviewing and educating,” Biondi said.

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