News Article

How schools are thinking differently about potential shootings.

This week’s episode of This American Life, a long-running public radio program that explores a different theme each week, featured stories on mass shootings. One of the segments featured took a closer look at the lessons learned in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February.

The school had undergone intensive active shooter training just weeks before the event that took the lives of 17 students and teachers. As I listened to the segment, a few insights surfaced for me:

  1. One of the lessons learned from previous school shooting was the importance of locking doors and securing areas. At Sandy Hook, the gunman tried two classroom doors and found them locked. The third classroom door he tried was not. He entered that classroom.

“I will not be the third door,” teacher Melissa Falkowski told her students during the active shooter training at Stoneman Douglas.

The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected. That quick action can limit a shooter’s movement, and also limit the movements of potential targets, keeping them out of harm’s way.

  1. Hyper realistic drills yielded worse performance, underscoring what we already know: humans don’t perform perfectly in high-stress situations. Some schools have used surprise drills featuring “gunmen” with blanks. As you might anticipate, the drills can be extremely traumatizing to faculty, staff and students.

In surprise drills with blanks, participants were so traumatized they forgot key steps like calling the police. Guardian eliminates such critical errors by automatically notifying police the moment that a shot is detected.

  1. Other alarms can add to confusion. During the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, dust from acoustical tiles hit by the first few bullets tripped the fire alarms, sending students and teachers pouring out into the hallways where they were exposed to the shooter. Emergency plans had accounted for multiple conflicting alarms – a fire alarm and an active shooter alert – with instruction to ignore a fire alarm and always pay attention to the active shooter alert. But the fire alarm was triggered instantaneously, while the active shooter alert was not.

Would the outcome have been different if acoustic shot detection had triggered an alarm for an active shooter first, rather than an alarm for a fire drill?

Interested in learning more about Guardian? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

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