The Richmond School District held an intensive training session last month to train school personnel on what to do in the event an active shooter entered a school.
The one-day course was designed by Officer Tracy Rogers to “assist faculty and staff in their ability to prevent, report and protect themselves and their students during the critical moments while waiting for a police presence to arrive and then what to expect once they are on the scene.”
School counselors Pam Miller, of Sunrise Elementary, and Kim Spratt, of Dear Elementary, were very impressed with the training and described their reactions to the various shooter scenarios.
“I didn’t know what to expect and my expectations were blown out of the water,” said Miller. “I thought about what it would be like to be a parent if this happened. I’m much more observant now.”
“It made me stop and think what I would do if that were to happen,” said Spratt. “I feel I’m more mentally prepared for it if it did.”
The course was broken down into two modules. The first part was centered in the classroom and covered an overview and historical examination of active shooters and the lessons learned. They also studied behavioral pre-cursors and threat assessments. School lockdowns were presented, as well as what to do if a lockdown fails. Educators were taught what to do as they wait for law enforcement, trained in rapid deployment response for such emergencies to arrive.
The second part of the course was the actual hands-on training block for law enforcement. The four-hour training was at Sunrise Elementary. Even training weapons were used; no live weapons, ammo or chemical agents were brought onto campus.
Drills and exercises were run, simulating an active shooter situation, so school personnel could practice lockdown protocols. District personnel were never sure exactly when or from what direction the ‘shooter(s)’ might gain entrance into the school.
Jeff Southwick, director of athletics, buildings and grounds, transportation and food services, said, “Our goal was to provide training for district employees to be aware of and how to handle themselves and their students, provide safety for the students and for other administration and teachers, how to respond and use certain techniques and ways to get away from the shooter. They teach us now to defend or flee. The idea of sitting under a desk doesn’t work.”
Local agencies involved in the training exercise included Richmond Police and dispatch, Ray County Sheriff’s Department, Lathrop Police, Missouri Water Patrol, Missouri Conservation, Richmond School District personnel and participants from schools in Liberty, Orrick, Lathrop and Sedalia.
“We’re definitely moving toward getting our buildings safer,” said Southwick. “A single entry into each building, using a buzzer and a video safety surveillance door lock system is the goal and is currently in progress. We have to control who enters. This was a great training for all of us and a joint effort.”