Press-Republican

Monday

March 3, 2014

Planning could save lives in event of shooting

Readiness, attitude critical for crime victims, trooper says

PLATTSBURGH — When O’Neil O. Stephenson walked into NBT Bank in Plattsburgh on July 2, 2012, with a note saying he had a gun and wanted cash, the teller knew what to do.

Ellen Bouchard, the branch manager, had gone over procedures with the staff just a week before the crime.

Stephenson was wearing a fake beard and rubber gloves, she said, and only a few employees were aware of the robbery as it was happening.

The teller remained calm and handed over the cash in her drawer, complying with Stephenson’s demand.

Once he had left the bank, the teller told the other employees what had happened. and they called police.

‘DON’T BE A HERO’

“The whole thing happened in just a matter of minutes,” Bouchard told the Press-Republican in a recent interview.

“Don’t be a hero,” she said of the company’s policies. “Our whole thing is to keep everybody safe.”

It wasn’t until after Stephenson had left and police began their investigation that the gravity of the situation registered with the employees, Bouchard said, adding that some became emotional.

The next morning, the bank paid for a counselor to be available to the employees and also covered follow-up appointment expenses, she said.

‘EDUCATE EMPLOYEES’

Bouchard, president-elect of the Plattsburgh Rotary Club, helped arrange a presentation that featured State Police Sgt. Chad Niles, whose topic was safety in active shooter situations.

Niles is in charge of emergency management for Troop B and works to educate students and local communities on proper safety procedures.

There are an average of 15 mass shootings in the United States per year, he said during his recent presentation.

And although they are rare events, Niles recommends employers educate employees on the steps they should take in shootings and other such emergencies.

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