Violence Avoidance

Home Invasion and Active Killer training

Our Violence Avoidance and Survival (VAS) classes prepare you for events in your home, school, church, workplace, or anyplace, including malls, theaters, airline cabins, and amusement parks. You’ll learn how to deal with a wide range of potential hostilities, from “show and tell” individually directed threats, to killing sprees, to complex coordinated attacks, to sieges.  Often referred to in shorthand as “Active Shooter” classes, they also cover other types of killing spree, including vehicle, bomb, and edged weapons attacks. We also address specific types of violence, such as home invasions, which are far more common than spree killings.

Reduce your liability

Inevitably, after a massacre, there will be lawsuits. The perpetrator (upon whom the blame really rests) is often not around afterward to sue, so instead the lawyers reach–through the administrators–for the deep pockets of the government or business entity. Training your staff reduces your liability in multiple ways.

We can all agree that killing sprees are a real possibility. The Supreme Court called ignoring such realities “deliberate indifference” when Geraldine Harris sued the City of Canton, Ohio for failure to train its employees for situations which can be expected to occur. If you do not give your staff options other than “lock the door and hope for the best,” you, too, could be held liable for failure to train.

But your people have already had active shooter training. Or did they? What you probably got was awareness-level education, not training. There is a difference.

Training, not just education

As reality-based training pioneer Ken Murray pointed out, we might grudgingly accept that our adolescent kids need sex education, but we probably wouldn’t want them to participate in sex training. Active shooter education is good, if it gets you thinking about what you would do ahead of time. But our TRAINING will make you more likely to survive.

Everybody says “Run Hide Fight,” but most won’t teach you which movement techniques make you least likely to get shot. Fewer still let you practice HOW to fight a rampage killer if you have to.

Heloderm’s Violence Avoidance and Survival classes are hands-on. We use a variety of safe simulators, allowing you to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of violence, so you can process through your OODA cycle faster when it happens to you in real life. We teach you how to off-line an active shooter’s weapon(s) and disarm him. We show you simple, effective methods of controlling the assailant(s) till the people with handcuffs arrive.

We also teach you how to be “left of bang,” to recognize and respond to potential threats before they devolve into bloodshed.

Our training is conducted in coordination with local law enforcement
. Homes and businesses adjacent to your school, church, or workplace are notified of the training in advance, in person and by flyers. Placards will be posted in and around your buildings on the day of the event, to minimize the chances of neighbors calling in what they might otherwise mistake for an actual incident (and even if they do, dispatch and the local patrol sergeant will already know about it).

Up-to-the-minute TTPs

Many of our plans for active shooter situations are based on an enemy who no longer exists. Spree killers–and other criminals–study our plans and adapt their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to defeat them. Our training needs to keep up with the times.

Many school districts base their “lockdown” plans on the formerly-true assumption that “an active shooter has never entered through a locked door.” That has not been true for a decade. In 2012, a murderer shot through a window adjacent to the electronically locked front door of Sandy Hook Elementary to gain access to his child victims. In 2013, a contractor used his valid ID card to gain access to victims in the Washington Navy Yard. In Virginia Beach, the killer apparently did the same thing. In 2010, an active killer shot two people through the locked door of  a closet at the ABB plant in St Louis.

Hiding behind locked doors is still a good default–IF your door doesn’t have a glass window the killer can see and shoot through. If so, stacking on the adjacent wall to take advantage of the door’s “flow” probably makes better sense than hiding in the closet, and definitely makes better sense than hiding under non-bulletproof desks within sight of the windows.

Depending on the type of door and available materials, barricading the door should help, but might not, and may even prevent you from getting inside the minimum effective range of the killer’s weapons. We can come to your classroom, church, or business to give you specifics pertinent to your own micro-terrain. We’ll give you options and information you can use for planning to defend your castle.

On February 14, 2018, the fire alarm went off during a killing spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was initially believed that the killer pulled the alarm to get his victims out into the hall where he could have them in enfilade, but he probably wan’t that smart.

Either way, students wound up in the halls, and vulnerable. Teachers not at ground zero, such as the courageous and articulate Melissa Falkowski, were able to pull most of their students back into their classrooms for lockdown. Those closer to the shooter were less fortunate. If an adult does not have pre-existing off-lining, disarming, and movement skills, the best they can do is shield others with their body, as Coach Aaron Feis did.

On April 16, 2007, Professor Liviu Librescu blocked the door to Norris Hall’s Room 204, holding it shut while the killer shot him through the door, allowing almost all of his Virginia Tech students to escape through the classroom’s windows.

Those selfless teachers, and too many others, sacrificed their lives. They did the very best they could possibly do with the training they had (or did NOT have).

I have the highest respect for Professor Librescu, his quick thinking, and his courage.  We should be naming schools after him. But how many more might he have saved, not just in his own classroom, if he had recruited the two biggest “jocks” in the classroom, instructed them to take the killer’s secondary weapons away, and used the “flow” of the door to offline the killer’s primary weapon (in that case, a pistol)?

We don’t want you to die for your students, parishioners, or coworkers. We want you to take the bad guy’s weapons away and beat him senseless with them. It’s not as hard as it sounds, if you know what you are doing. These active shooters are not Navy SEALs.

If you’re NOT close enough to off-line his gun, we DON’T want you to charge directly at him. We want you to move in such a way that you don’t get shot, or not shot as effectively. In our classes, you will see, from the killer’s perspective, how to do that.

I found the CPR/AED presentation very interesting and I learned stuff! I was there for the Active Shooter presentation, which was very informative . . .. I think this format is true to life and far more useful than sitting and listening to a presentation. I will recommend that the whole staff participate in a similar training.

–Theresa G, Charter School Administrator

Don’t wait

School districts are only now grudgingly accepting that they need to train their teachers in bleeding control. Convincing them to pay teachers to learn how to avoid or–gasp!–disarm active shooters is much more difficult. If you are an educator (including administrators / support staff), and can get together with one or more of your coworkers for a morning, afternoon, or evening, we will teach you much of what you need to know, FOR FREE.

Did we mention it’s FREE?

We train schools, houses of worship, non-profits, government offices, and organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Civil Air Patrol absolutely free of charge.

If you own a business, contact us to arrange low-cost or at-cost training for your employees.

This course was so helpful in dealing with things we all hope never to experience, but we feel better learning and facing our fears. I hate guns but if I need to protect children and my family, I will do it with confidence after taking this training course with George and Nick. I want to thank them; they made it real hearing gunfire it is very scary. What I found helpful was that they got us up and involved in the training. George had moments of joking to make my coworkers and I relax and take it all in. Thank you again for taking the time to really care.”

–Stacy H, educator


Heloderm is proud to partner with ICSAVE, Integrated Community Solutions to Active Violence Events, and the Arizona Church Security Network (AZ CSN).

ICSAVE is a charitable organization of volunteers (including Heloderm’s lead instructor, George H) who teach pro-bono classes for surviving killing sprees. ICSAVE teaches Bleeding Control to laypeople, Active Shooter classes for our schools and faith based communities, and advanced skills such as Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC), Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), and Public Safety Integration (PSI) to law enforcement and firefighters.

Although “Church” is part of AZ CSN’s name, we train people of all faiths. We help you learn how to protect the faithful in synagogues, mosques, churches, and temples.

Pima County SRO Active Shooter Workshops

In the summer time, educators from southern Arizona have the privilege of attending FREE active violence seminars put on by School Resource Officers from throughout Pima County, including the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Marana PD, Oro Valley PD, Sahuarita PD, and the Pima Community College PD. These are one day workshops, usually offered for a week at a time at schools on the north side, the east side, and the south side of Tucson. Young people from around the area participate as role players.

Heloderm / ICSAVE instructors were proud to donate their time and efforts alongside those brave SROs, to educate our educators in how to keep their students alive, for several years. Although we will no longer be assisting Pima County starting in the summer of 2024, we highly encourage any educators reading this to participate if possible. Their courses are an excellent foundation on how to survive active violence.

“If the killer gets through that door, this classroom will become our battlefield. We can choose how and where on that battlefield to fight him.”

–Jarrod G, School Resource Officer

Some of the photos on this site are from those SRO workshops, that George and ICSAVE assisted, or from ICSAVE / Arizona Church Security Network Active Killer (I-LIVED) training. It should be noted that use of these photos in no way indicates endorsement of Heloderm LLC by any government agencies.