Photo courtesy of Gadsden State Police Department.
By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor
Gadsden State Community College’s newly-formed police department held its first annual women’s self defense class this past Saturday, November 11.
The course, which was held at the Beck Conference Hall at the George Wallace Drive Campus, covered the basics of self defense, Stop The Bleed first aid and self defense laws and statutes.
The free class also offered a gun safety and shooting basics course at a nearby gun range following the main instruction on campus.
GSCC police Chief Jay Freeman was grateful for the participants and instructors. He thanked them for showing up early on a cold, rainy Saturday.
Freeman then started the program with the foundation of self defense: situational awareness.
He gave an example from his personal life to explain the importance of situational awareness.
In June of 2021, he was driving home from a beach vacation, travelling on Interstate 65 in Butler County, Alabama. He was in a vehicle with his wife and children when a horrific accident unfolded in front of them. Two 18-wheelers crashed and sandwiched a van from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch between them.
The accident caused a domino affect and 18 vehicles were ultimately involved in the crash. The multiple-casualty event was made worse when several vehicles began catching fire due to spilled fuel from damaged vehicles.
It was the fire which Freeman saw that lead him into action. He quickly removed his family from the dangerous situation before he ran back to the scene to help.
“There were countless people that were helped,” Freeman said. “We were at the right place to help people. There is no telling how many lives were saved because off-duty people jumping in to help.”
Freeman explained that people from all over from different medical fields or first responders who just happened to be travelling the area left their vehicles to come assist until ambulances and fire and rescue vehicles could arrive.
When all was over, ten people had lost their lives, including nine children.
Freeman credits his training, specifically his situational awareness training, for how he was able to lend a hand during a chaotic event.
“The important thing to remember in any sort of situation is that you can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself,” Freeman said. “Make sure you can keep yourself and your family safe. Because the goal is to go home at the end of every day.”
After the situational awareness portion, Freeman turned the program over to Brynn Crain for the legal advice segment of the class.
Crain went over the basics of self defense law, when someone can and cannot legally claim self defense and then he took questions from the audience.
After several questions were answered, Crain turned the class over to Jake Rogers for a crash-course in Stop The Bleed first aid.
Stop The Bleed is a specific training program dedicated to identifying significant bleeding wounds and different methods of stopping the bleeding until help can arrive.
Rogers demonstrated how to use tourniquets properly and other techniques for stopping loss of blood.
“The number one thing that will kill you is loss of blood,” Rogers said.
Rogers discussed different bandage types and suggested Stop The Bleed specific first aid kits that include tourniquets, pressure dressings and packing gauze.
The class then moved on to the self defense demonstration.
Tiffany Works with the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office taught attendees different moves to break free of an assailant’s hold and different attacks and counterattacks.
The class then broke into smaller groups with instructors and punching bags to practice the new moves.
The class concluded after the practice punches and attendees were awarded certifications of completion before the gun safety portion was carried out at a second location.
After the event, the Gadsden State Police Department Facebook page posted a statement of gratitude.
“As we reflect on our recent event, we’re overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who played a part in its success,” the statement read. “A special shout-out to our incredible instructors who went above and beyond: Tiffany Works, Leslie Reneman, Brynn Crain, Mark Light, Jake Rogers, Dustin Tucker, Lori Boatwright and Jacob Entrekin. Your expertise and dedication were key to our success.
“We also want to express our deepest appreciation to our wonderful sponsors. Your support has been instrumental in making this event a reality.”
The Gun Shop , Riverchase Flower Company, GSCC Workforce, GSCC Public Relations, GSCC Athletics Deptartment, GSCC Bookstore, Matt Skelton, The Rail House Public, Miller Clayton, Wash Box, Sodexo, GSCC Cafeteria, Mi Casita Mexican Restaurant, Deorio’s, Jack’s Family Restaurant of Southside and Little Bridge Marina all helped sponsor the event.
Freeman said he hopes that with the success of this first event the college could host a more in-depth course in the future.