The Safariland Group Blog

How Can Schools Become Better Prepared for “Active Shooter” Situations?

January 2, 2013 at 13:36

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, I write this with a heavy heart.  As I cannot imagine the terror within the classrooms that was brought upon those children and staff members, I consider the fact that most active shootings take only a few minutes to happen and the vast majority are over by the time the Police arrive.  I strongly believe that the personnel at Sandy Hook responded valiantly and we consider them heroes, and so I wonder how we can better prepare such heroes to handle such traumatic high-stress situations as an “active shooter” incident.

Schools prepare regularly for a fire with coordinated drills and as a result many schools experience little or no issues when fires occur. Yet, we have experienced tragedies in schools based on “active shooter” events.  Orderly fire drill-type evacuations are not the best solution to “active shooter” incidents since, in this type of event, such stress overwhelms the mind’s ability to reason and make decisions.  People respond only with gross motor skills and a fight or flight instinct.  If they have not been trained on what to do, and have it reinforced on a regular basis, the chances of the best outcome possible become less likely.

In my opinion, all schools should review and consider an “Active Shooter” Training Program. Teachers and School Administrators can become prepared by learning best practices from current and former First Responders, Law Enforcement and Subject Matter Experts through such a course.  This kind of training provides realistic scenario-based situations to better prepare teachers and administrators in the event this type of tragedy occurs on their campus.  It can provide the mental training we can all use to make better decisions in situations with an “active shooter.”

Active Shooter Programs promote an emphasis on responding under overwhelming stress and what should be done in the first few seconds to save lives. 

·         Decision-making under stress

·         Ad-hoc Barricade Techniques

·         Victim Rescue Techniques

·         Self-Aid/Buddy-Aid

·         Improvised Weapons

·         Self Defense

Get involved.  Recommend that your school districts consider evaluating this type of training to become better prepared.

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