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Posts Tagged ‘active shooter’

Should students, teachers have to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Were it not for Keanon Lowe, we might have been reading very different headlines last week.

Lowe, a former wide receiver for the University of Oregon, tackled and disarmed a student who entered a classroom at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon, wielding a shotgun. Lowe is a football and track and field coach for the school.

“When I signed up to be a Security Guard, Football and Track & Field Coach for Parkrose High School, I did so to guide and coach young people whose shoes I had once been in. I had no idea, that I would one day have to put my life on the line like I did yesterday for my students,” said in a tweet following the incident.

But what was once unimaginable – staff, students and teachers being forced to confront gunmen in schools – is now depressingly commonplace. In recent weeks, students have been shot and killed confronting gunmen on two different campuses.

Kendrick Castillo, and 18-year-old just days from graduation, lunged at shooters on the campus of STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver, Colorado on May 7. His quick action may have saved the lives of others, but it cost him his own.

A 21-year-old man named Riley Howell was forced to make the same split-second decision when a gunman opened fire at UNC Charlotte on April 30. Howell was also killed, but is credited with saving others by taking down the gunman.

These recent incidents have ignited complicated conversations around current active shooter response protocol – run, hide, fight – and about the demands placed on students, teachers and staff to make life and death decisions.

While we grapple with these questions, it’s important to investigate ways to make campuses as safer.   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, limiting a shooter’s movement and/or keeping potential targets out of harm’s way.

Given the commonplace nature of gun violence in our country, I believe we are rapidly moving to  place where gunshot detection systems should be considered as standard safety equipment in a facility, much like fire detection and suppression systems.

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

Active Shooter Drills and Trauma

An active shooter drill for staff members at an elementary school in Indiana drew fire recently when it was revealed that teachers were shot with Airsoft guns as part of the training.

Members of local law enforcement who were conducting the training shot four teachers “execution style” in the course of the training. The shots raised welts and drew blood on some of the teachers.

The Indiana State Teachers’ Union decried the training tactics and called for changes, but the White County Sheriff’s Office defended the approach.

“The training was meant to be realistic — to show what happens if you don’t act,” Sheriff Bill Brooks said following the training.

But is there actually a knowledge gap for teachers? Do they not know what may happen if they fail to act in a real, live active shooter event? That’s doubtful, given ample evidence. Nearly every significant active mass shooting event at a school has included teachers and staff members rushing to protect children. Teachers fully understand the need to act, and act quickly.

Inflicting unnecessary trauma on teachers, staff and children during training events may actually be a greater risk to safety in the long term, and the learning environment in the short term.

A recent story that appeared on MarketWatch claims that no studies exist that demonstrate that more realistic active shooter training is more effective.

A segment produced on an episode of This American Life last year suggested that realistic active shooter drills may actually negatively impact preparation. Participants in drills were so traumatized that they forgot critical response steps, such as calling police.

Drills and actual active shooter events both reveal the same thing: trauma negatively impacts humans’ ability to consistently respond in a way that is both timely and effective. While drills and training are still important, they are not likely to overcome that.

Instead of putting all of the onus to respond on teachers, staff and students, a better approach may be to integrate systems that automatically detect and respond to gun shots, much like fire detection systems automatically detect and respond to the threat of fire.  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, limiting a shooter’s movement and/or keeping potential targets out of harm’s way.

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

How can we keep houses of worship safe?

“Hello, brother.”

The man standing at the entrance of the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand must have seen the weapon the gunman was carrying, and must have guessed the gunman’s intent.

Even so, the greeter welcomed him as a “brother,” offering a hospitality even in the face of a clear threat. Many Muslims have commented online that the final words of that greeter, who became the gunman’s first victim, embodied their faith.

The greeting brings to mind the way Dylan Roof was welcomed in by members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Roof was invited to stay for Bible study. He spent an hour studying with a small group, including the church’s pastor, before gunning down nine of them.

Why are houses of worship so often the targets of active shooters?

The very design and purpose of most houses of worship makes them vulnerable to attack. Most houses of worship are meant to be places that are open and welcoming. Attackers count on that vulnerability.

They are also, of course, places where people of a common faith gather, which makes them a target. The communities gathered there may also share political beliefs, ethnic heritage or immigration status, which may also make them the target for shooters with an evil agenda.

Houses of worship are also often a refuge for troubled people, or those seeking help to escape domestic violence.

So, how can houses of worship enhance safety without compromising core values and losing their sense of community?

First, most broader religious organizations and associations, as well as major insurers, offer guidebooks and training. Leaders should check with their religious networks for guidance, or check with their insurers (see here and here). Law enforcement agencies are also good resources for advice and training.

Houses of worship should also consider adding video surveillance and automatic gunshot detection systems. Both can be unobtrusive and effective in detecting and communicating threats.

The Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

We’d love to tell you more. Please reach out via this link for more information.

What have we learned since the Parkland shooting?

A year ago this week, a young gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and took the lives of 17 people. The Parkland shooting was another in a long, sad list of mass shooting incidents that seems to grow every year.

Students at a vigil following the shooting in Parkland, February 14, 2018

But Parkland seemed to be an inflection point in the United States’ struggle with gun violence. Much like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School more than six years ago, the shooting seemed to break through the national consciousness, even if just for a moment, and spur people to turn a critical eye to these types of events and at least attempt to prevent them from happening again.

So what have we learned?

Mass shooting incidents produce stress and chaos, which make it difficult to make good decisions. Despite the fact that Marjory Stoneman Douglas had held active shooter drills just weeks before the shooting, nothing could quite prepare leaders for the actual event. While the actions of some teachers and students have been heralded as heroic and life-saving, the actions (or inactions) of other leaders on the scene have been called into question. At least some of the problems called out included slow response due to confusion over exactly where the shooter was located on the large, complex campus.

That confusion could have been immediately eliminated by automatic gunshot detection and reporting via systems such as Guardian, offered by Shooter Detection Systems. Guardian uses infrared and acoustic sensors to automatically and accurately detect gunfire. Once gunfire is detected, authorities can be instantly notified of exactly where it is located, and other systems can be activated as well, including automatic door locks and alarms.

Several school districts, including districts across Texas, have responded to shootings like Parkland by investing in Guardian as part of facility “hardening” initiatives. Unlike other such initiatives, Guardian is relatively unobtrusive.

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