It Is Insane That School Officials Don’t Always Warn Teachers Of Active Shooter Drills
We live in a time where, sadly, something called an “Active Shooter Drill” exists. Organizations obviously need to train their faculty and staff on how to handle it if the worst happens and there is a shooter in the building but I find it shocking that they do not always warn the employees when this is about to happen. I understand that if it happened for real, they would have no warning but it seems like a lot could go wrong if the employees are not warned in advance. It is especially upsetting in schools where they don’t always warn teachers of active shooter drills.
This article confirms my suspicions that these are not a good idea. Apparently, people are getting hurt and organizations are being sued for it. From Mother Jones:
In the wake of the nation’s many recent mass shootings, and in the absence of any meaningful gun control that might stem them, employers and schools have started training their staff to respond should a madman with a gun turn up on their doorsteps. “Active shooter” drills have become the norm in many school districts and downtown office buildings; in many schools, such drills are now mandated by the state. But it turns out that bringing SWAT teams into buildings to simulate an active shooter situation doesn’t always make people feel safer. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, such simulations have seriously traumatized and occasionally injured people, sparking a wave of lawsuits.
The Journal tells several amazing stories of people who were injured or utterly freaked out during such drills, which often weren’t announced ahead of time. One involves a Colorado nursing home employee whom a man forced at gunpoint into an empty room at work. The “shooter” was actually a local cop and the gun was fake, but the nurse was so scared that even when the “shooter” finally identified himself as a cop after she started crying and begging for her life, she wasn’t really sure he was telling the truth. She was so traumatized that she had to quit her job and has since filed a lawsuit against the nursing home.
I am honestly stunned reading that account. I cannot imagine how terrified I would be if this happened to me at work and I cannot imagine how terrified my child’s teacher would be if one of these drills was conducted without warning at school. I understand the reasoning behind the “surprise” factor but if children are involved, I see no value in them witnessing their teacher completely frightened and a person in the room with a fake gun pretending to threaten them. I think it is enough to tell the children about these scenarios and possibly have them acted out with very obviously fake guns (although even that makes me want to cry). I know this is our sad reality now but there has to be a better way to handle it than this. I am not alone in my feelings:
Some experts, however, say recreating the chaos of a mass shooting is no way to prime for emergencies. “There ends up being zero learning going on because everyone is upset that you’ve scared the crap out of them,” said Greg Crane, a former SWAT officer with the North Richland Hills Police
Department near Dallas who holds seminars to teach civilians different strategies to deal with mass-shooting scenarios.
To me, that is obvious. No one will be absorbing anything or paying attention to how it’s all going down if they are legitimately terrified. I know my children have drills at school where they practice “lock-down” but they haven’t had anything like this and I hope they never do. The fact is, how these situations occur is rarely predictable anyway and probably won’t follow any formula. I think it is enough to have firm protocols in place for locking down the school and taking action to keep the students safe but I cannot see any value in simulating something so terrifying, particularly, when no one has any warning that it’s about to happen. It seems like a recipe for potential disaster without much being gained by anyone.
(Image: Larry St.Pierre/Shutterstock)