As school officials across the nation become more accepting to the reality of active shooter incidents, we have seen an increase in preparedness measures taken to help save the lives of staff and students in the event such a tragic experience unfolds. While our goal as a company is to increase awareness and help best prepare schools to protect themselves in an active shooter event, we also see the need to protect schools from companies and/or organizations providing inaccurate, unhelpful, and in some instances’ deadly guidance/information.
Upon investigation of active shooter attacks, victims and witnesses have repeatedly expressed that they thought a real lockdown was “simply a drill.” The seed of confusion is planted when gunshots or actors are used during a school/student involved lockdown drill because the sound of a gunshot does not change. There is no way to quickly distinguish a gunshot in a real-life event, compared to a gunshot in a drill. Additionally, frightening staff during drills (whether by firearms or actors) becomes overwhelming which inhibits the senses. When this occurs, the value in training is lost as trainees can only focus on the fake threat. Because of this, we advise schools and police departments that shooting off blanks and scaring people is ineffective and problematic rather than empowering.
From state to state and school district to school district, there is no regulation for active shooter drills. To address the inconsistencies, Armoured One’s call to action is to create a national code which ensures that lockdown drills and lockdowns are done correctly. Prior to a drill taking place, staff and students should be prewarned of the upcoming event. At the time of the drill, an administrator should calmly announce, “This is a drill. We are in lockdown. This is a drill. We are in lockdown.” One should not scream lockdown or induce fear with gunshots. The teacher or staff member is to make sure the classroom door is shut and locked. Students should sit quietly on the inner wall and practice silencing their cell phones. Students should be reassured that this is a drill and that it will be over shortly. The only time staff is to participate in a full active shooter drill is when students are not in the building. Progressive training is the best way to build confidence and empower staff. This training cannot be done with students because statistically the active shooter is a current or former student. We cannot stress the severity of this last point.
In this day and age lockdown drills are needed, however, they put staff and students at a disadvantage if not done correctly. The goal of school officials and leaders should be to save as many lives as possible. Protection in emergency preparedness is just as necessary as protection in a life -threatening event. Active shooter drills should enhance response time and when done correctly minimize doubt and indecision.
Author: Tom Czyz