Student Safety in Active Shooter Situation- Part 1, by P.N.

As an educator that has worked in quite a few small and large schools, there are a number of safety drills I have been required to take part in. The list includes fire drills, shelter-in-place drills, bomb threat drills as well as lockdowns (active shooter) and evacuation drills. One drill that I find lacking in every school I’ve entered is the active shooter drill. Security in schools are more than willing to admit that “it’s not if, but when” for the next school shooting.

Current Active Shoot Drills

Most schools practice active shooter drills by “calling” the drill while students are already in class. When the drills are called, the teacher shuts the door (that typically is already locked from the outside) and the students sit in the corner away from the door. All are required to be quiet until someone comes and checks the door. Once all doors are checked, someone from administration comes over the loudspeaker and “clears” the drill. If a school is responsible, they will require a two-person verification at this point, meaning two people must come over to “clear” the drill from two different locations in case one of them is being held hostage.

In this procedure, I find several flaws, which are outlined below:

  1. Having the drill take place while students are already in the classroom is ineffective. An active shooter will not necessarily start shooting while students are in their classrooms.
  2. Many administrators will come over the announcement and calmly “call” the drill. Rather then just yelling “Lockdown, Lockdown, Lockdown”, they discuss what is happening. Where is the urgency?
  3. When in the classroom, no one is taught to block the doorways/entryways. By blocking these it would help impede the passage of a shooter.
  4. When it comes to the two-person verification, who’s to say that the two administrators aren’t both in the Main Office at the same time? Frequently, administrators have offices that are adjacent to one another or are in meetings together.

Ways to Fix Procedure

There are many ways that I would fix this procedure that are fairly obvious. As an educator, but more importantly a parent, there are ways that I would teach my child to handle an active shooter that would far surpass the quality of the school’s actions. As a parent, teaching your child to be self-reliant is crucial to their survival in any type of active shooter scenario.

Look For What’s Out of the Ordinary

I encourage all parents to start training their children to look for something out of the ordinary from the time they leave the house. In this article I will discuss the following key areas and times of day:

  1. The bus stop in the morning.
  2. The bus ride to school.
  3. Getting off of the bus at school/walking into the building.
  4. Walking through the halls during the day.
  5. Sitting in the classroom.
  6. The cafeteria or assemblies (which occur frequently throughout a school year).
  7. Walking out to the bus at the end of the day.

The Bus Stop

Your child (and you as a parent, if you stand at the bus stop) should be aware of other students that may be present. Obviously, if you have a stop with just one child, this is a moot point. However, like many stops, there will be a group of students. Before your child even gets on the bus, teach them to look and listen for signs of a potential shooter.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself At the Bus Stop

The follow are questions to ask yourself at the bus stop and in various situations:

  1. Is there someone wearing a jacket or coat, especially something that is long when it is warm out? Why would they be wearing this when it is not necessary? Could they be hiding a weapon?
  2. Look at backpacks and duffel bags. Is there a student who never carries a duffel bag but now has a long one that looks like there’s a “stick” inside (meaning a rifle or shotgun)? Are they carrying their backpack in a strange manner, possibly with their hand constantly inside even though they are not actively looking for anything in the bag?
  3. Is there a student who is shifting continuously, acting uncomfortable when usually they are calm?

More to Look For and Do at the Bus Stop

Teaching yourself and your child how to look for the above signs can help prevent something from happening before the day even begins. If the child is alone at the stop, tell them that it is okay if they walk back home “pretending that they forgot something,” so as not to raise suspicion. Ensure that they contact you immediately so that you, as a parent, can contact the school to let them know that something doesn’t seem “right”. It is much better to be preventative and over reactive than allow your child to go to school in a potentially dangerous situation.

Bus Ride

While on the bus to school, your child can continually ask themselves the above questions. Remember, they will be getting on a bus that currently has students, or that will very shortly. As your child steps on the bus, teach them how to scan the students already present. While walking to their seat (assigned or not) look at each student on the bus and see if there is anything suspicious. Again, the student should be asking themselves the key questions:

  1. Is there someone wearing a jacket or coat, especially something that is long when it is warm out? Why would they be wearing this when it is not necessary? Could they be hiding a weapon?
  2. Look at backpacks and duffel bags. Is there a student who never carries a duffel bag but now has a long one that looks like there’s a “stick” inside (meaning a rifle or shotgun)? Are they carrying their backpack in a strange manner, possibly with their hand constantly inside even though they are not actively looking for anything in the bag?
  3. Is there a student who is shifting continuously, acting uncomfortable when usually they are calm?

At each subsequent stop, complete the same tasks. It takes less than five seconds for someone to realize that something just “isn’t quite right”. In the beginning of the year it may be more difficult for a student to notice the quirks of each rider, but as each month progresses it becomes easier and easier to identify anything out of the ordinary.

Arriving at School

As students begin to exit the buses and enter the building in the morning, there is a mass of bodies that provide an easy target. Those that are familiar with military terms will understand that the doorways entering the building become “fatal funnels”. My school, for example, has over 1600 students with the vast majority entering just five doorways. The bottle necks/choke points created are tremendous, and for anyone with ill intent, they would provide an easy opportunity for maximum damage.

As your child exits the bus and begins to enter the building, teach them to recognize the points of the building that may be bottle necks/choke points.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself Upon Arriving At School

The questions to ask are:

  1. Is the door I am entering the best option? Is there one with less congestion?
  2. When walking toward the door, is there a way for me to deviate from my route in the case of a shooter? Can I easily get away from the entrance, maybe cutting across the grass or beds that may be adjacent to the walkway?
  3. If I’m just entering the building, where can I go to get away from the location the easiest? Is there a stairwell close? Is the cafeteria or gym close, so that I can try and exit into another room or even go back outside?

More on Arriving at School and Entering Doorways

Each doorway will have its own set of positives and negatives. Teaching your child to pick the best option may be crucial to their success and survival in an active shooter situation.

Tomorrow we will continue going through the locations, ask questions to help you consider options, and offer suggestions to increase safety at school in the event of an active shooter situation.

See Also:

  • Student Safety in Active Shooter Situation- Part 2, by P.N. (Active on 1/5/18)

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  1. I will be sharing this with my child (15). We have a small school with about 400 students in grades 6 – 12. The school was built for more and is half empty. But when she travels and we visit more crowded places – the tips presented here still apply.

    I Think of all state music concert. We were in a strange school with students from all over the state. Large audience.

    Students funneled through a few doors. Many visitors in the unfamiliar auditorium.

    Good points to keep in mind.

  2. My wife is a teacher, n in the last 2 years, the drills include blocking the doors n throwing things at the shooter. In other words, teachers n students are trained to be more aggressive.

  3. Number 1, get your kids out of public school!

    Number 2, when some of mine were in public school, they had my standing orders to disobey teachers’ instructions to hunker down, instead to throw a chair through a window if needed and run for the woods.

    1. Amen. Do not give government schools access to your children. The two greatest gifts that parents can give their children are Jesus Christ and schooling at home.

  4. There is an irony here. Active shootings at school are terrible and kill a very small number of children each year. It is one of those subjects that our MSM has no fear of discussing. But deaths caused by illegal immigrants bringing in diseases kills even more of our children and is typically transmitted by those children in our public schools. But you cannot say this out loud or in print. The MSM would never touch this subject. But yet illegal immigration still continues and still allows sick immigrants to bring diseases to America. So do we really care about student safety?

  5. I fully agree with having armed guards. Unfortunately in the liberal public schools that will most likely never be a reality so having the children prepared is crucial.

  6. Your article provides many good tips for all students and staff. There are however many districts which do lockdown, lockout, and ALICE drills. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. This is active shooter training for our staff and students designed to empower them to do more than hide in a corner. It is a travesty that schools must engage in this type of training however just like a fire drill, we are making these drills part of what we do throughout the year.

  7. There is no true way to teach a 15 year old to act tactically in situations in which he has no control. He is told he has 3 minutes between classes, what areas he is allowed, where his locker is located, and exact times to eat and use the restroom. None of which are feasible to maneuver in a protective way. Honestly, it is prison like. The only way to win is not to play the game. Please home school! It is easier to manipulate your own life than that of your childs. Through God’s grace alone, it can be done and will change and protect your child. I also loved doing it!

  8. One tool that is overlooked in the school environment is the Fire Extinguisher. I recommend fire extinguisher training for all school teachers. Here in California, this seems to be to only way not to generate ire from parents and politicians to protect the children.
    This tool when discharged into the face of a shooter will affect their sight and respiration. They usually have a good 20-30 foot range. The advantage it that they are strategically placed within the school.

  9. 1 Peter 5:8King James Version (KJV)

    8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

  10. My main fear is a Beslan School type of attack. Hit an elementary school where we are the most vulnerable with no resistance. This is the terrorist method of cowardice.

  11. It takes and armed citizen to stop an armed attacker. The teachers should have the option to be armed! and there should not be any Gun Free Schools! Armed citizens should be encouraged to visit any school(s) at any time.

  12. Most states will not allow private, armed security. This is due to pressure by the school boards and parents. It is hard enough just to forbid the use of I-Phones. The high school I worked at in Kootenai County had one city police officer as SRO. This officer told me about anticipating an active shooter in that it is not a matter of if, but when. The district hired a retired cop as a Teachers Aid and then fired him months later after they discovered he had been carrying concealed. Even though he was HR218 qualified and trained monthly, it did not matter. And, even though Idaho is a Constitutional Carry State, their laws do not permit ANYONE to carry on campus unless they are an active, sworn Idaho police officer. I believe this is a clear case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. It will eventually be their undoing.
    This fired cop told me he was glad to be out of there as most of the teachers and staff are extremely politically correct and spend most of the time just babysitting the students who are addicted to all of their electronic pacifiers. This is why it is so important to get your children/grandchildren OUT of public schools.

  13. All well and good, until you’re in one. I have a 14 year old daughter. I kept telling her, “Run, hide, fight.” Talked about protection all the time. And of course, in a rural school district of total 800 K-12 it will never happen. Freeman HS, Rockford, Washington. Sep 13 2017. 1 dead, 3 wounded. My daughter was on the floor just below the shooter sitting on the floor waiting for 1st period. She didn’t move until after the shooting, then ran out of the school. The kids on the shooters floor ran into any room open. Teachers locked their doors as fast as possible. The janitor tackled the shooter, a 16 year old. His AR 15 fired once into the ceiling, then jammed. He shot his friend with a 32, killing him. 3 girls were also shot. Armed resource officer arrived within 2 minutes. EMT on scene within 4 minutes, local fire station within 3 miles. Want a visual? Look a pictures of Sandy Hook. Everything was done right, and the shooting still happened.

  14. In New Jersey, a liberal state, they just created a new class of police officer specifically for the schools. Its only open to retired NJ police officers who are very well trained by national standards. They are armed and in uniform and the focus is on protection of the students. If it can be implemented in NJ it can happen in even the most liberal of states. Because retired officers already have a pension, this is an economical way to provide protection for the students and should be looked at as a national model.

  15. Student Safety in an active demonic firey dart shooter situation. Short answer, homeschool. If you’re Orthodox or Catholic, holy water and blessed salt, and some minor exorcsims.

    Lets see, they will be told evolution is true so they are just evolved primates, transgenderism is a thing, if they are Christian and White they have privilige, and if boys, are evil rapists and too active so need to take Ritalin. Oh and have to accept being pincushions by the vaccinator mob that insists on every trivial or sexually transmitted infection be innoculated for.

    Please shoot them. I’d rather parents learn the Schools are not safe by destroying their children’s bodies before their souls are destroyed.

    OTOH, if you have a private school, the advice is also in error, you need to teach the adults and children how to fight back (think Red Dawn, the original). They should teach gun safety and marksmanship.

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