Since the notorious Columbine High School shooting in 1999, over 50 active shooter incidents have targeted schools. Almost 25% of these have resulted in mass killings. Schools in all areas of the country, urban, suburban, and rural, are at risk.
With school shootings becoming an unfortunate and regular occurrence in the United States, it has become not a luxury but a necessity to have an active shooter response plan or Emergency Operations Plan. A good program for violence prevention will incorporate multiple kinds of strategies and consider the full range of potentially violent incidents that could occur. Besides reducing the risks of shootings, these interventions can diminish delinquent and disruptive behaviors, bullying, suicides, and other violent or antisocial behavior by identifying students who need help so that they don’t turn to violence. These types of plans can also be helpful in any other kind of disaster/emergency.
Such a plan should create partnerships in the community between students, parents, administrators, school boards, law enforcement, and emergency responders. No one plan will work for every school/community. There are many different possible strategies and approaches based on the individual details of your school. And while no plan is 100% guaranteed to work, going through the process of creating it will give your school a much better chance of averting a threat rather than being caught unprepared.
In recent years, studies have revealed that the traditional lockdown method may not always be the best response to a school shooting. Instead of locking up and hiding away until the threat is averted, people can judge for themselves what the best response at the moment is. One approach is the Run, Hide, Fight approach described below.
As late as 2007, the US Department of Education only advised a traditional lockdown approach with students hiding under desks or against walls, in the style of duck-and-cover drills during the nuclear threats of the Cold War period. By 2013, however, with more research (and more shootings) on hand, the advice changed. Adopting different plan options can help reduce response time and the number of injuries. It is best to work with both a qualified school security expert and legal counsel with knowledge of requirements for schools in your state to determine which type of plan is best. Regardless, your Emergency Operations Plan should be fully documented and understood by everyone in the community, such as through periodic drills.
It is also essential to conduct this process not to traumatize students, particularly younger ones. Based on the advice of your security expert, it may be best to do separate training sessions for teachers/staff, older students, and younger students, depending on the makeup of your school.
Any thorough Emergency Operations Plan should incorporate the following elements: Prevention, Threat Assessment, Crisis Planning/Preparation, During Crisis, and After Crisis.
Here are some best practices for conducting practical and informative drills:
Almost every response plan to a shooting will involve some variation of what the FBI calls Run, Hide, Fight. This is true both in schools and in other settings such as buildings and public areas. The approach involves the following:
Regardless of the readiness of any school during a crisis, a few glaring pieces of important information are missing. For starters, knowing how many potential threats there are during an emergency is critical. Knowing how many students and staff are in direct danger, who those individuals are, and where exactly they are is imperative. Precise data like this would be invaluable to first responders as they are called to the scene and plan their response. With Volan Technology’s accurate, reliable, and intelligent positioning software, teachers can quickly communicate with other faculty and 911. They can begin their advised response form (Run, Hide, Fight). Staff can determine precisely how many individuals are in harm’s way, who those individuals are, and where those individuals are.
It’s understandable to feel powerless to prevent school shootings. The good news is that with some preparation and cooperation between members of your school, law enforcement, and the overall community, you are more likely to successfully identify and deal with threats.
Contact the Volan Technology team of experts to discover the capabilities of our people positioning software.
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