“Run, Hide, Fight” : Merriam business owners learn how to respond in active-shooter situations

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- Business operators are learning how to stay safe should an active shooter attack their workplace.

Following the latest mass shooting attack in San Bernardino, Calif., several businesses in Merriam asked police what they could do to be prepared should something similar happen here.

"When it's written about in the newspapers and you see it on TV almost every single day that's increasing your chance to win the lottery," said Stoney Bogan, president of the Downtown Merriam Partnership. "We don't want to win that type of lottery."

Officers taught three simple options that all businesses should consider when facing an active shooter: Run, hide and fight.

People in San Bernardino responded by using these tactics, and police say that helped minimize casualties.

"Planning is the key to being prepared," said Chief Michael Daniels of the Merriam police. "Our basic message is run, hide, fight. But what we want the business owners to do is make a plan and talk about it with their employees. Let them know that while they are not prime targets in any way, they can't really avoid the potential that this may happen."

Merriam has seen a lot of growth in it's business district in recent years with the addition of Ikea. And the city is home to large employers, including Shawnee Mission Medical Center, the Lee Company and Seaboard.

There's also a large contingent of small shops, whose mom and pop owners can't spend a lot on safety or security.

"We are all close together," Bogan said. "If you have a scenario where they are walking up and down the sidewalk within a block radius you have 10 businesses."

The intersection of I-35 and Shawnee Mission Parkway is one of busiest in the state, with 150,000 vehicles a day. That makes for easy access. But police say by planning and being proactive, businesses here can prevent becoming easy targets.