NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — From active shooter situations to fires and weather emergencies, New Haven city employees want to be ready for anything.
“If we could give you a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of understanding, a little bit of training, it would make you at least a little bit better to confront a situation,” said Rick Fontana, director of Emergency Operations for New Haven.
At the Wilson Branch of the Library on Wednesday, dozens of employees were given situational awareness and de-escalation training to prepare them for real-life situations. It could be a confrontational patron, a hostile coworker or the threat of violence.
“It doesn’t have to be here at work,” Fontana said. “It could be at home. You could be out shopping with your family.”
Fontana led the training and said it’s more important now more than ever.
“We said, let’s make sure we’ve got all our planning in place and make sure we understand that we have to worry about this now,” he said.
Moose fatally struck by vehicle on Rt. 15 in North Haven
When it comes to de-escalating a situation tools that can help are listening, being aware of your body language and tone.
“If someone is raising their voice, the normal response is to raise your voice,” said Jim Rascati, a clinical social worker. “The best thing you can do is to not raise your voice. Remain calm, speak slowly, eye contact with an individual. At the end of the day, it’s about respect.”
But if the situation escalates and becomes physical, you are advised to get help immediately and not to argue with someone who’s armed.
“If you run, you run. If you can hide, you hide. The last option is to fight,” Fontana said.
Each training lasts about two hours and additional training exercises have been scheduled.
Fontana told News 8 these sessions are voluntary at this point, but the last one will be recorded, and new employees will be required to watch it as part of their initial training. The training is recommended for all city employees.
The next training will be on Thursday, May 25, at the Hall of Records at 200 Orange St. at 10 a.m.
The video below aired in our 5 p.m. newscast on May 17, 2023.