By Carrie Knight
Local school districts have begun to implement new training drills specifically for school shootings.
Mock school shooting drills give the opportunity to first responders and teachers to practice and learn how to protect themselves and students.
Fire drills were made mandatory by state laws for every school to have each month. “Each month, every school goes outside for a fire drill, and there has not been a death by fire in a school since the 1950’s,” said a Harford County Police Officer, who participated in the drill. “However, the last death by a school shooting was less than a month ago and we are not required to do these drills.”
So why are school shooting drills not mandatory?
A few weeks ago, on a half day of school Southern EMS, Harford county state police, fire personnel, Wellspan Behavioral Health employees, Southeastern School District staff, and student volunteers gathered to perform the first mock shooting drill for their district.
Two adults came in the school playing the role of the “shooters.” They lapped the school three times looking for victims and going after anyone they saw.
After six minutes of shooting ceaselessly with nerf guns, police were sent in to catch the two shooters. Shortly after, fire personnel were sent in, with medics and EMTs following.
Staff and emergency personnel role-played medical treatment as if the threat were real.
“These drills are important,” said Grant Gouker, assistant principal and head of safety drills at Red Lion Area Senior High School. “What it comes down to is survivability.”
Red Lion is also planning to have a full mock shooting drill in the near future, similar to the one South Eastern held.
Implemented this school year at Red Lion was ALICE, which stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.”
“The advantage of ALICE is that it gives you a choice,” said Gouker. “When you have a choice, even if it is twenty kids in a classroom, that could be twenty different reactions to the same thing.”
ALICE drills like the one held at Red Lion in November, are small-scale drills to prepare for the unknown. Even though they are not full-on active shooter simulations, they help build knowledge of students and staff on different reactions.
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