After a brief hiatus during the holiday season, the Women’s Self-Defense Class is back with a few changes and new sponsorship.
The first class of 2014 is scheduled to be held at the Bob Ruud Community Center March 1-2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office is now backing the program after the class’s former sponsor Denise Pilkington needed to temporarily step away from her duties as organizer.
Aside from the sponsorship, the only other changes being made to the program are the frequency with which the classes will be held and the NCSO officers instructing it.
Instead of having the class once every month, deputy Summer Danneker, an instructor for the course, said they will be held once every other month or once every two to three months depending on the level of interest from the community.
The two-day class covers a variety of defense and awareness topics teaching women what to do should they ever find themselves in an emergency situation.
“The first portion is a classroom session and we talk about awareness, how not to be a victim, what to look for, different ideas on security and safety, things to pay attention to and then we also talk about sexual assault and we talk about if they get into a situation reporting versus not reporting and then the process,” Danneker said. “After the classroom portion we break down basic fighting skills — punches, kicks, target areas. We do some bag work and then the next day we kind of put it all together and put them through some scenarios.
“We have the RAD, or red man suit, we suit up one of our trained male deputies and we suit the females up too with some padding and we actually put them in life-like situations in a controlled learning environment. We try to make it as realistic as possible and then they have to use what they learned.”
In addition to the practical knowledge and skills the class imparts to participants, Danneker and fellow instructor deputy Heather Trumble said the class also gives many women a new-found sense of self-confidence.
“One of the things I’ve noticed is it really builds a lot of self-confidence in women. Most women don’t know how to fight, or don’t think they can, and this two-day class really shows them what they’re capable of doing,” Danneker said.
“You see them transform into someone else,” Trumble added.
Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall said the sheriff’s office decided to back the program after its sponsor stepped down as it is a valuable service to the women of Pahrump.
“We’re a public service agency, this is one of the services we provide to the public and we’ve been very successful in raising funds in the form of donations, in-kind donations or things like that to help fund different programs that we have and I anticipate that the public will definitely step up with either in-kind donations or donations to keep the program going because of the value that it adds to the communities,” he said. “And our hope is to not just teach it here in the Pahrump Valley, but to expand it to all of Nye County.”
The NCSO started the program 13 to 14 years ago after Round Mountain Gold approached the department to inquire about hosting a self-defense class for its employees.
Marshall said after one of the employees told officers about a program a North Dakota police department had started, the sheriff’s office learned more about self-defense programs and started its own.
“Round Mountain Gold had an employee that came from North Dakota that had mentioned a police department back there had put on this type of class. So I contacted that agency in North Dakota and got information about the class,” Marshall explained. “We sent two instructors to training and that was the genesis of how the program got started. Then the program kind of went away and then when Tony DeMeo took office he revived it and it grew to what it is today.”
An incident at the VFW where a female bartender was sexually assaulted one night more than six years ago spurred the start of the current program.
Approximately 650 women have gone through the class since.
Danneker said many women come back for additional classes and are encouraged to do so to keep up with their skills.
The program has been so successful the NCSO’s instructors have been asked by other agencies to come teach classes in their areas as well.
“A couple of agencies have tried to get us to go and teach it where they are back East, but it’s not feasible for our department to pay for us to go back there, so we haven’t been able to do anything like that,” Danneker said.
Danneker and Trumble said they will be teaching the classroom portion of the course, while Deputy James McRae and Deputy Joe Marshall, both members of the NCSO SWAT Team, will teach fighting techniques.
The Women’s Self-Defense class is free and open to any woman age 14 and older. Those under 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
Lunches over the two-day course will be covered by Marshall and Assemblyman James Oscarson.
“It’s meant to be fun class, but also educational,” Marshall said.
“The physical aspect will wear them out, but they will walk away a stronger person,” Trumble added.
A second class is scheduled for May 3-4. For more information or to register, call 775-751-7000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.