“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
~Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
If you are a parent, do you send your child to public school, private school or home school?
If your answer was anything other than home school, it is important to severely question the safety and security of your child. In most schools, both public and private, the adults in the school are lacking in any tactical or true emergency situation training. They are also typically NOT allowed to carry anything with lethal capabilities.
What this means is that those that are trusted to keep children safe, have no training to do so. It also means that when a criminal is willing to take things to a level of lethality, there is no ability from the staff to meet this force with the same or higher force.
This also means that the only way to overcome someone that is jeopardizing the safety of the school is to use large numbers, but large numbers are usually not available because everyone is scattered throughout the building in individual classrooms. Not only this, but many of those in teaching roles, never being in a situation requiring tactical thinking, will hide (with their children) and just hope the “bad man” will just go away eventually.
If you want to have emergency guidelines for schools to follow that will help with their preparedness, just follow PPRR (pronounce it “pepper”). What is extremely important is the following (and I will allow you to copy this to use for planning for a school near you):
- Prevent or Mitigate the Emergency
- Prepare for the Emergency in question
- Respond to the emergency, and know what you will do
- Recovery Efforts, after the fact.
So let’s visit a few items in each one and tailor it to that of a school shooting.
Preventing or mitigating the emergency situation in a school:
This intertwines with the other steps in the basic school plan, but we want to eliminate hazards and vulnerabilities BEFORE a situation occurs. Usually this step is for natural disasters, but can also be used for a hostile individual.
First, it is important for the school to have a working relationship with local police or task forces. The local police should always have a patrol within five minutes of a school. This personnel should NOT be there to waste time harassing people, and writing tickets. He should be solely patrolling nearby areas for unsavory characters. His main purpose is for quick response to a REAL threat of safety.
Next, I am FULLY against bars on windows. If it is just as hard to leave a building as it is to get in… it is a horrible idea. Congratulation, you have built your own trap. I am for reinforcement of doors and barriers. The main problem with barriers is they can also be used to keep ”the good guys” out.
Employ an onsite voluntary force, with obvious limitations on force used outside extreme circumstances. You can’t shoot a child because he ate his grilled cheese into the shape of a gun or made a gun with his pointer finger and thumb. These persons should be held to the same standard of a basic citizen… no extra authority besides being able to carry a weapon. This group could be anyone that has proven competency and intent. It could even be incentivized, such as a pay raise for teachers that are “tac-ready.”
Preparing for emergencies in school:
The prevention and mitigation of the situation is very closely related to the preparedness. The prevention is really putting in place a new set of operational “procedures”. Preparing is more of what “protocols” will we use when something happens, and how do we do them more efficiently and effectively.
This is the time for disaster plans and school mapping. This is a time in which teachers ACTUALLY know the best course of action. Is it to leave through the window? How about an escape route that was already BUILT INTO the school. Where is everything? What are the entry points and how do we react if force comes from there.
All teachers should be CPR and first aid certified. They should also be trained in the START system of trauma first response.
Do we have supplies for the disaster? We want guns and ammo if a violent intruder has broken in. We want a certain amount of food, water, medical equipment, and other things for most disasters.
Teach children what our main emergencies are. Put the information in terms understandable by all ages, but that there is very real danger. What is their roll in an emergency. Most of the time, it should NOT be to hide in a big group in the corner of a room, so we make a huge target.
Response to school emergencies:
Now, you must be ready to take action. To ensure this happens, we run drills and exercises.
Practice evacuations, target-building… I mean shelter-in-place (there is a legitimate time for this), the reunification of students with teachers and parents.
Teachers must practice, but the tac-ready team must specialize in crisis management techniques.
All teachers should have radio communication, and I would go as far to say that each room needs multiple radios to be used.
After all actions are taken during ANY disaster, a small checklist would be a great thing to assist the teachers in verifying that all steps were followed.
Recovery from school emergencies:
This is a program to help with short term and long term recovery efforts.
Do we need to relocate the class, or do it via internet?
Many times there will be property damage. This will be repaired, so we will need funds to do this quickly.
Have a way to deal with PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) and learn the identification. Last thing we need is for a child to have his mental health ruined from the situation.
Obviously, I can’t cover all aspects of school preparedness, but I hope you are thinking a bit. Each of these steps can be a roadmap to get the school prepared for MANY different kinds of emergencies. Hopefully, you will share this with someone in your child’s school to help them work on their Emergency Action Plan.
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