Survivor of active shooter situations helps hometown church prepare for worst

PRATT, Kan. A Pratt native survives a hostage situation and an active shooter situation at a Colorado church.

Last week, Carl Chinn, now a security expert, returned to his hometown of Pratt to explain why churches need to be ready for anything.

The training Chinn provided was sparked by the Texas shooting in November that left 26 people dead and several more wounded.

A survival of two active shooter situations, Chinn knows it could happen to you. In 1996, he was a hostage while working as a building engineer for Focus on the Family.

He became a security consultant a little after that and was again present when an active shooter shattered the peace. This time, in 2007, he was volunteering at his Colorado church.

A killer shot two girls in the church's parking lot before entering the building. That man was shot by volunteers and ultimately committed suicide.

Wednesday, Chinn shared some tips for the Pratt community on how to handle such situations. Among those tips is to make sure there is security on the outside of the building. It's a lesson he took from last year's Texas church shooting.

Chinn also says to look out for strange behavior and to train and conduct drills. He says a judgment of appearance is not part of being on alert.

"You're not judging people on what they look like. You're judging by what they act like," Chinn says. "It's behavior that you're looking for."

He explains that the core of his message is against denial that something could happen.

"I absolutely believe God protects us, but I also believe we have to do some intentional parts ourselves," he says. "Nehemiah 4:9 says, 'we prayed to our God and posted a guard.'"

With keeping guard, Chinn says when it comes to being prepared for the possibility of an attack, churches should "appoint a few good people and come up with some basic programs."

"And we go through how to do that and we also go through why that's necessary," he says.

Chinn explains where the process of evaluating safety begins. He says one of his biggest tips is to make sure the outside of the building is covered.

"Start with a risk survey, a measurement with where you are," Chinn says. "And then start with what you have. I tell churches just to no overcomplicate it. Look at the doors you have around the edges, around the envelope of the building. Make sure they're working great. And one other important thing is to really make sure you network with your community."

This includes local law-enforcement.

"You want to make sure you have a good working relationship with law enforcement long before you need them," Chinn says.