South Dakota Girls State holds Active Shooter training

Published: Jun. 5, 2016 at 10:44 PM CDT
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The 70th annual South Dakota Girls State wrapped up Saturday with a special session on active shooter training.

More than 400 high school juniors from across the state participated in the training along with members of the Vermilion community at the University of South Dakota. The teens had a special training session Saturday morning that taught them what to do in an active shooting situation.

"I think it's all something we should be aware of and that it could happen to anybody," said Director of Girls State Cheryl Hovorka.

That's why Girls State leaders decided the 400 attendees could benefit from active shooter training and share what they've learned.

"They are going to be future leaders in state, federal and local level. We're giving them the tools to take back to learn how to keep people safe. To keep themselves safe if they are ever stuck in a situation like that," said Yankton Police Department Lieutenant Michael Burgeson.

It's something everyone hopes they never have to experience.

"It's important for these girls to get exposed to this because it could happen anywhere at any time. We talked a little about the Omaha mall shooting. They could have been in that mall when it happened. They could be in a school or church. Unfortunately, people that want to cause harm to others. They don't care where they go or where you are at," Burgeson said.

Yankton police officer Michael Burgeson shared some important tips on what to do in an active shooting situation.

"That when the shooter comes in, you don't stay down and hide. You fight back and it will make it harder for them," said Meghan Handegard, of Rutland, S.D.

"We need to make sure they know, okay, we went into lockdown. What is the next step? What is the next things we can do when we start barricading the door? If we have to we can start to escape out of the window," Burgeson said.

The Girls State students say the training gives them confidence.

"Because most of the time, people view us as lesser and that we can't fight back and we are kind of getting empowered here," Handegard said.

"Everybody wants to be safe and I think the more education you get, the better you are," Hovorka said.

Saturday's active shooting training was also open to the public. Law enforcement say it's valuable information everyone should learn.