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NEW RICHMOND, Wis. – Dozens filled New Richmond High School on Thursday afternoon for the first of two CRASE courses led by police chief Craig Yehlik. CRASE stands for Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events.

“With everything that’s been going on recently – with events as close as Apple River, Mall of America, the Oakdale Theatre shooting- it’s weighing really heavily on our citizens mind,” Yehlik said. “I’ve been teaching this class for about six years and some of the people who have been through it said ‘I think it’s time for a refresher.'”

Kathy Speece was one of the people in attendance.

“You get up in the morning and think you can’t hear something worse and you do. Things come out and you just can’t believe they’re happening,” Speece said. “The amount of crime in the world and what’s going on…I think people need to be aware of what’s going on and they need to know how to react to things. So that’s what brought me here.”

Yehlik says the focus on civilians is intentional.

“Our police are well trained. Our schools are well trained. We need our citizens to start getting some training to stay alive until the cops arrive,” he said. “I really just don’t think there’s been any civilian training on what to do in these types of situations. To have just that simple ‘avoid, deny, defend’ model to avoid it if you can, deny the person access to you if you can…and if you can’t, be ready to take some action, I think is just knowledge that everybody should have.”

As part of the presentation, Yehlik showed clips from active shooting events that have taken place around the world, including Columbine and Virginia Tech. He also showed attendees how to use simple tools to protect themselves and others in a high stress, high stakes scenarios.

“I thought it was very good. I thought he did an excellent job. It is the reality, it is. The world is changing every day,” Speece said. “Know where the exits are. Know when you walk into a room, department store or whatever – to know how to get out or to be prepared, to be aware of the people around you.”

Yehlik says the course isn’t meant to scare people, but to make sure they know what to do in the scariest of situations.

“People get interviewed afterwards and they say ‘I never thought it would happen here’ and we just kind of have to change that mentality and say it could happen here but if we’re educated and prepared, we’re going to minimize it or maybe stop it before it ever happens.”

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