Safe and secure

Intensifying intruder drills


Maddy Roller

The increase in school shootings has forced Rockwood to take other security measures, other than new intruder procedures.

During the 2009–10 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded that one or more crime incidents had taken place at school, amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes.

The need for improved intruder drill training has risen significantly.

“Times have changed,” Michelle Thai (12) said. “The world has become a crazy place. People are more stressed now because of money, a bad home life or parents, causing them to do more drastic things.”

EHS has decided to take action, implementing new and improved intruder drill training for the teachers and eventually the students as well.

“We are taking it above and beyond the regular intruder-type procedures that we have had in the past here,” Mr. Charles Crouther, interim head principal, said. “This is going to be as close to the real thing as possible, so it could get emotional or physical.”

Teachers went through new and improved intruder drill training once the students were dismissed for a half day, Aug. 28.

“Because of all the events that have been happening over the past few years in schools, it’s important for parents, staff members and students to feel safe and know they are coming to school to learn,” Mrs. Kristy Raymond, guidance counselor, said. “That is what their ultimate goal should be, but we have to be prepared in case of intruders.”

Teachers will have to retrain themselves, shifting their approach from the shelter-in-place mentality.  Teachers would lock the door, drop the window cover, usher students to the back of the room and everyone would remain quiet. The idea was to stay out of the way of danger and let first responders handle the situation. This approach could take all day to clear a campus of EHS’ size.

But history has proven other approaches more successful. The 4e training was conducted with all of our staff, focused on four main survival components: educate, evade, escape and engage.

I really don’t know what to expect, but I know it’s going to be active,” Mr. Keith Baremore, science teacher, said. “My only fear is that I’m old and can’t move well.”

The Missouri General Assembly updated its statutes Aug. 2014, mandating that all public school districts and charter schools must conduct active shooter and intruder response training.

“We’ve seen mass casualty events where large numbers of innocent victims have been affected, and law enforcement and school districts across the country have decided that that simply isn’t acceptable,” Mr. Justin Sparks, Police Officer and 4e trainer, said. “Basically, we looked at it as the same as what we train for fire drills, tornado drills and earthquake drills, so why wouldn’t we come up with an effective intruder drill that could actually help when that day comes.”

The need for a more effective intruder drill is based on the number one priority of safety.

“Our old intruder drills increased our chances of getting hurt,” Kaitlyn Duchild (11) said. “Because of all the recent school shootings and things we see on the news, I think this new training is a better safety precaution.”

The training was about exposure.

“We ran through scenarios where the teacher would barricade the room, where they would evacuate and where they would encounter or engage the suspect,” Mr. Mike Smith, School Resource Officer, said. “Each time we didn’t say, ‘Okay here, you’re going to do this.’ We gave them options and situations where they had to make the decision of ‘Do we evacuate or do we stay?’”

The trainers used the senses to immerse teachers in the moment, using cap guns startling the participants and filling the air with the smell of gunpowder.

“There were some things that were pretty intense,” Mr. Gary Baumstark, Language Arts teacher, said. “We watched a video about school shootings in general, and that was very emotional and sad, but when we actually did the drills I felt glad that we were learning and gaining other options.”

A more active response has now replaced the shelter-in-place approach. Trainers encouraged teachers to trust their instincts with fight or flight mechanisms. fight back and. These other options have proven to be advantageous in school intruder situations.

“The intruder drills that we had, and most schools across the country had up until a couple years ago, was a lockdown-only operation,” Mr. Sparks said. “That is not necessarily the best option for you. It’s not going to help you. Locking down at Columbine High School was a disastrous option because the intruders were already inside with the students and teachers.”

Even students acknowledge the need for multiple defense options.

“In the intruder drills before, we just sat there,” Annie Grimshaw (9) said. “I want to learn how to protect myself.”

While the training pushed teachers to think about crisis situations differently, the end goal remains the same.

“The main objective is for the EHS staff to further protect and keep safe the most important thing here which is the students,” Mr. Crouther said.

The first Active Shooter Drill will take place Tuesday, Sept. 29.