This past week I attended an “active shooter training” entitled “Surviving a Campus Shooter” presented by the UNH Campus Police. There were (I believe) three meetings of this presentation. I was pleased to see the presentation was packed by faculty and staff from all over the UNH family. I chose to attend this presentation because I have come into contact several times with violence during my years teaching, and as a doctoral student. There still is a strong emptiness I feel when considering the recent acts of violence that have poisoned our schools, but I felt that it was in my best interests to be prepared and vigilant in case future events warrant.
Usually in this blog I discuss teaching, learning, and uses of technology. I also spend some time reflecting on my own research and pedagogy. In this case I wanted to take a bit of time to share some of what I learned in case it helps someone else. As they stated in the presentation, preparation and planning is one of the best things to help keep you alive. This post is drafted with this in mind.
The presentation began with a video produced by the University of Wisconsin police department. I searched online, but could not find it to share here. You can search online to find related websites and news stories about this training video.
The biggest theme from this presentation was on the “Five Stages of the Active Shooter Phenomenon” and the fact that there is a lot of planning, time, and clues involved in this process. During this time period, we were urged to recognize some of these “indicators/actions of violence potential” and bring them to the attention of school administration, police, or advisors. The key was on recognizing these signs and clues in a person’s behavior and being able to prevent violence.
In the event that an active shooter incident does occur, we were advised to always just remember the word “Out.” This means that we were to think of: Get Out, Call Out, Hide Out, Keep Out, and finally Take Out. Get Out means that if you can, immediately find an exit and get as far away as possible. Call Out means that as soon as you reach safety, call the police and share any details that you remember. Be Specific. Hide Out means that if you cannot exit the building, find a place that is safe and secure to hide as best as you can. This may mean a closet, under a desk, in a corner, etc. Keep Out means that you lock yourself in an area, and secure it to keep the gunman out. I have first-hand experience of this while teaching high school. We had a code that indicated we were to bring all children into the room, lock the door, and huddle everyone in a corner that did not have a line of sight to the window in the door. This proved to be a big challenge with a class of 9th graders all of which brought their cell phones to school. The final out stands for Take Out. The advice in the video was that in the last case possible, you might have to make the decision to attack or subdue the active shooter. In the presentation the video clips made it very clear that in these circumstances you are fighting for your life.
For more information, you may take the following simulation provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You can also review the materials posted by UNH at the following website. Finally, my university provides a service called EmergenSeeU. This is an app that you install to your smartphone. When you launch the app, it starts up your GPS, microphone, and video camera. All of this is immediately transmitted to public safety and the police to document what is happening and bring help.
Once again, I applaud my university for providing this information to the campus community. I applaud my colleagues for attending what I assume to be packed presentations. These materials are shared for informational purposes…and with the hope that they help at least one person. If you want more information, or you believe your school is at risk, I urge you to talk to the authorities, talk to each other. Gather information, promote discussion, and develop plans in an attempt to create a positive and safe learning setting.