THE MAGAZINE

The Best Defense

By Laura Spadantua

Supporters stress that fighting back is a last resort. “If you’re in a dire situation, you need to go into survival mode and do whatever you have to do to have a chance to live,” Linda Watson, CPP, security consultant with Whirlaway Group LLC says. She adds, “We know these kids aren’t cops. They’re not trained in martial arts. They’re just little kids going to school…. But do you sit there paralyzed, or do you say, ok, if we have to fight, we fight?”

“Ninety percent of our time training is on evacuation and barricading. We also spend time talking about violence-prevention measures. We talk about how teachers and school people can think more like an emergency responder, and even with things like communication and calling 911 and how to assist a law enforcement response, all those kind of things,” Klinger says.

“We spend hardly any time…on the counter or fight aspect of it, for a lot of reasons,” she explains. “Number one because there is that pushback. But the primary reason is that when you focus on the fight aspect, everything else gets lost.” Klinger adds that what little training she does do on fighting back includes throwing things and creating diversions to get away. The “Run Hide Fight” video advises people to incapacitate the shooter if possible, by using whatever is available, such as chairs. The video also shows people hiding beside the door so they can catch the shooter off-guard when he enters the safe room.

Emergency Communications

Ensuring that critical information can be communicated during an active-shooter situation is important. Klinger notes that the whole staff should know how to carry out these tasks in case the people who would normally fill those roles are hurt or not available during an attack.

Teachers and other staff throughout the school should be trained not only in how to use the school’s emergency communications equipment but also in how to provide effective information to 911. For example, they should learn to be as specific as possible when giving information to 911 operators or when communicating with the rest of the school; in describing a shooter’s suspected location, for instance, that would mean providing room numbers if possible rather than just providing a wing or a floor.

 

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