Recent history has shown that even the smallest and quietest communities are not immune to tragedy. School shootings have become more and more frequent, especially within the past decade. These tragedies have occurred in typical communities like: Littleton, Colorado; Red Lake, Minnesota and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Just last week, Chardon High School experienced a terrifying ordeal when a student apparently gunned down several students in the cafeteria. Although the topic of school shootings isn’t pleasant, discussing protocol and crisis plans could be extremely helpful in the event of an emergency.
You’ve probably been part of a tornado drill where you go into the hallway and sit with your legs crossed towards the wall and a textbook over your head. Practicing tornado drills is a common occurrence on school campuses across the country and schools’ emergency tornado plans are well documented. Many school districts have begun implementing lockdown procedures but don’t necessarily discuss what to do when a shooter enters a room. Larry Banaszak, the Chief of Police at Otterbein University, explains several survival tactics in his article, How to Survive a School Shooting. Banaszak suggests three tactics to respond to a shooter on campus and are listed below.
This is a fairly obvious tactic, but still important. You want to put as much distance as possible in between you and the shooter. Running erratically and dodging behind objects could help make it more difficult for the shooter to take aim.
Hide and Barricade
If running away is too dangerous, your next option is to hide and barricade yourself in a room. Lock and barricade the door, cover any windows, and crouch out of sight. Make sure to stand clear of the door in case the shooter attempts to shoot through it.
Attack the Shooter
This tactic is the most difficult and should be used only as a last resort. When a shooter enters a classroom, the first person to notice should yell “GUN!” to notify other students. Everyone in the room should throw anything available, as hard as possible, at the shooter’s face to prohibit taking aim. The scariest portion of this tactic is that everyone then needs to swarm the shooter as fast as possible to pin the gun hand and gun towards the ground. Take “ready-at-hand objects such as belts, t-shirts, etc., onto the shooter’s throat, nose and eyes to disrupt breathing and sight.” Once the threat has been removed, people can release pressure to allow the shooter to breathe until the police arrive on scene.
When executing the last tactic, it is possible that some people may be injured or killed in the process. If no one acts at all, it’s likely that the shooter will kill everyone in the room until stopped. Education and training are very important when trying to be prepared for this type of emergency. Make sure you research the procedures implemented at your own school and have open dialogues with school administrators about how prepared your school is. Shootings can occur anywhere, and the best way to protect yourself is to be prepared.