Day 27/180: The live-shooter drill
Today was a non-school day for kids, while we had professional development. The morning was spent with some technology overviews and departmental stuff. The afternoon was definitely different (I mentioned it last week).
After signing waivers for the local police (local fire and first responders also took part at our school), we all picked a room in one wing of the building. Teachers for those rooms were playing parts of teachers, and the rest of us were “students”, along with some actual student volunteers (mostly in the police or responder cadet programs). Some students were in the rooms with us. A police officer was the “perpetrator”, complete with air-soft guns (the practicing-police also had air-soft guns). After we heard gunshots, our teacher went to the hallway to lock the door, and saw two kids (in Halloween makeup with “gunshot wounds”) whom she dragged into our room. We supplied “first aid” to what we could diagnose (one was “dead” and one “died” in our room while we hid). We’re not supposed to say much about what happened (so that a real perpetrator couldn’t capitalize on faults). Our room was eventually evacuated outside.
It was creepy. I have been in an actual lockdown before, but nothing happened that time. This time, there were only 7 of us in the room (then 9), 6 of whom were adults. My heart was beating really hard in my chest in before the initial gunshots (so, mostly an anticipatory response). The kid who “died”, for whatever reason made it really hit home for me. I’m responsible for 30 kids five times a day. Responsible for their education and their lives. My room doesn’t have the same construction and hiding places that that room did. We didn’t have 30 crying, sobbing, hysterical teens frantically texting their parents and each other.
During the debriefing with the police (who ran the drill again after we all left), we talked about what went well and what did not. The school (before I started my subbing) had had ALICE training, so we talked through what we could have done to non-police-actors. The “perpetrator” actually evaded police and got away. We found out that the entire neighborhood (almost a square mile) was actually cordoned off so that the police could simulate the entirety of the incident response, including locking down nearby elementary schools. Local (and national!) news crews were reporting on this thing too.
I’m still having problems accepting that our professional development day was spent in a drill of this nature. There’s multi-week preparation courses, written and practical, for driving cars; other than age, there’s no requirements for buying guns. A wise friend once told me, “if you have a gun, you must be prepared for using it for an ultimate purpose: killing someone,” which is why he didn’t own a gun.