Dec
14

Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by on December 14, 2012

A number of people have requested permission to share this post on their blog. PLEASE DO! Everyone who works with children needs to know there are things they can do to minimize the loss of life in crisis situations. Please share this post any way you can. Repost it. Tweet it. Facebook it. Email it. Print it for those who don’t use digital media. Use it to start discussions with this who make the decisons regarding school safety in your school. Please include a link back to this post so Kris can answer any questions that people may have.

My name is Kristofor Still (@kris_still).  As you have probably guessed by now, I am married to Beth Still, who is the author of this blog.  Before I dive too deep into this guest blog that Beth has asked me to write, I feel you need to know who I am and the level of experience I possess in my fields of expertise.

I have been in Law Enforcement now for almost 19 years; the last 13 years have been with the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Department in Nebraska.  I have been a SWAT team member for the last 11 ½ years and a SWAT sniper for the last six years.  I am also one of the department’s two firearms instructors.  In May of 2012, I was given a great opportunity as I was one a select few from across the state who were able to gain a certification as an Active Shooter Response Instructor.  I now teach a two day class to area Law Enforcement Officers along with my Sergeant, Troy Brown and Scottsbluff Police Officer and fellow SWAT team member, Ian McPherson.

As most of you probably know by now, today was one of the most horrific days in the history of the United States.  A killer walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and killed 20 children and 6 adults.  Of those killed, a majority of them were Kindergarteners.

When something like this happens and innocent children are killed, it tears at the hearts of a nation.  Destroying what we as parents hold dearest to our hearts shock us to the core.  It makes us realize how fragile life really is and how one crazed, sick person can take it away in the blink of an eye.

As I mentioned above, I am one of three instructors in our county that teach active shooter response to our area Law Enforcement Officers.  Because of this, my wife knows that I am passionate about making sure that our officers are prepared both mentally and physically to go in and meet this evil head on and terminate it as quickly as possible in order to stop the killing.

Like most parents across our nation today, we talked at great length when Beth arrived home from school about what we can do as Law Enforcement Officers and Educators to stop this from happening.  Beth came to me because she knows that I have also in the past gone to two of our area schools and provided them in-put on ways the school and teachers can protect themselves and the children.  The sad thing about all of this is that my advice fell on deaf ears.  I know that neither school followed through with any of the recommendations provided to them.  I believe the reason that nothing was done was two fold.  First of all, too many administrators fall into a comfort zone and genuinely believe that this kind of evil will never happen here.  The second reason is because of the all mighty dollar.  In both schools that I went to, I talked about purchasing certain items that could be used to aid teachers in protecting and or keeping intruders out of their rooms in the case that they were unable to escape.  I felt that in both cases, I lost them once it came down to spending money.

I am often asked by people and teachers what they need to do in the case of active shooter in the building or school in which they are located.  I start off by telling them to follow the acronym A.D.D.  This stands for AVOID, DENY, DEFEND.  I tell teachers, administrators, law enforcement officers, and citizens the same thing.

AVOID:  Escape the scene as quickly as possible.  If you are able to run, do so until you are sure you are in a safe place.

DENY (entry):  If you unable to get out, barricade yourself in a room.  Pile all of the furniture and heavy items in front of the door as possible and then quietly hide in the room in an area that would provide cover and concealment from an active shooter who wants to try to shoot into the room.  Remember that an active shooters main goal is to kill as many people as possible to provide the greatest shock factor to his or her audience.  They do not like to get hung up on a closed and locked door.  This will slow them down too much for them to effectively accomplish their mission or goal.  Most likely, they will move on.

DEFEND:  If you are unable to escape or secure yourself in a safe room, you need to fight for your life.  Find any items that you can use as a weapon.  These are items of convenience such as a fire extinguisher, coat rack, trash can, chair, etc.  If you are able to, find others in your same position that are of the sound mind and body to assist you in fighting for your life as well as the other innocent people who could fall victim to the senseless killing that is happening.

Another major problem that I am seeing in our schools is that our teachers are given a policy or a flip chart to follow in times of an emergency.  This may work if you are talking about a fire drill or tornado drill, but teachers need leeway in their decision making when they are dealing with an active shooter.  Most teachers are by nature known to be rule followers.  This creates problems as they tend to fall back on a flip chart or policy and ignore that sixth sense about what they should do.  The way I describe this to our new law enforcement recruits is by telling them that if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.  Learn to follow your sixth sense and do what you feel is right.

Early on in this post, I spoke about certain in-expensive items that I recommended these schools purchase for each teacher or each room.  Below is a list of these items that I recommended to them and am now recommending to you.

1)      Tactical door wedges.  These can be found on-line and typically cost between $15 and $20 a piece.  These secure the door to the floor from inside the room, so the door can be permanently locked.  If done properly, the only way you can open the door is to tear it down with an axe or chainsaw.

2)      A claw hammer with a long handle.  These can be used as both a weapon to fight with or a tool to break and rake windows to aid in escape if your room has exterior windows.

3)      Medical kit to include a tunicate and a clotting agent.  Remember that the first responders that are entering the building are not there to provide medical attention to those that are injured.  They by-pass the injured and going straight to the threat so they can stop the killing as quickly as possible.

4)      Rope or fire escape ladders.  To aid in escape through an outer window if you are on the second or third floor of a school or structure.

5)      Emergency blankets.  These can be used to help comfort the wounded or to throw over the broken glass in a window pane prior to escape.

6)      Cell phones or emergency radios for each classroom.  Communication is key to any law enforcement officers or tactical teams arriving on scene.  If you are able to provide pertinent information to police dispatch, you can aid in response time by providing the locations of the shooter(s) inside the structure.

7)      A box, tote, or five gallon bucket to hold all of these items as they are stored in a safe place inside the classroom.

As you can see above, these are not high priced items.  Push your administrator to purchase these for each classroom and tell him or her why you feel it is important.  If they refuse to help your school, find ways to make this happen on your own.  Some of the items above may be lying around your house or garage and could easily be transported to your school.  The rest that needs to be purchased could easily be justified as inexpensive life insurance policy.

As an educator you are responsible for protecting your students if at all possible.  Too many times in these cases of school shootings, there were red flags that many noticed, but failed to report until after the unthinkable happened.  If you see or hear something that you consider to be red flag with a student, report it.  Start by telling an administrator or counselor.  If this fails and you believe they pose a true threat, talk to one of your trusted law enforcement officers.

In closing, I want you to ask yourself this; could you live with yourself if you failed to prepare, act, or report a possible future threat that resulted in the death of a student, wife, husband, son, daughter, grandparent or co-worker.  You owe it to yourself and your students to be their first line of defense by educating yourself and making good sound decisions!

 

Below are images of a tactical wedge and a tactical strap. Both can be purchased from Botachtactical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



28 Responses to “Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario”

  1.   Lee Kolbert Says:

    Thank you. You give sound advice that can help us feel empowered during a time where we feel powerless. With your permission I would like to reprint your post on my blog, with proper credit. Would that be OK?

    Reply

    •   Beth Still Says:

      Absolutely Lee. I should have included something about that in the post. Anyone who wants to repost may do so. Kris wants this message to reach as many people as possible.

      Reply

  2.   Lee Kolbert Says:

    I should have explained the reason for why I would like to repost. There are a few folks in my district who are in the position to make important decisions who every so often take the time to read my blog. I believe it might get their attention. Thank you

    Reply

  3.   Susan Dee Says:

    Thank you so much for this post! After a sleepless night, realize how vunerable my classroom is, I’m going shopping today! I would also like to reprint your post on my blog with proper credit if that is okay.

    Reply

  4.   Beth Still Says:

    Susan- Please share this post. It is so important for teachers to know what they should do in a crisis like this. Teachers often feel helpless, but there are things we can do to help lives. Using a post like this to start a conversation with those that make the decisions regarding school safety is necessary.

    Reply

    •   Henry Says:

      This is a wonderful post. My heart goes to the families of the victim. I have an Edublog and I will like to share this post with my readers in Africa. I will give credit back to your post. Hope you will permit me to reprint it. Thanks, Henry.

      Reply

    •   Jon Kessler Says:

      I forgot to tell you Susan is my Sister, and I will personally be taking care of her class, and her own personal safety!!!

      Reply

  5.   Jon Kessler Says:

    Kristofor Still,
    Thank you for your post and very good advice. Some back ground about myself, I am a Disabled AIRBORNE RANGER, and have done many of these “active shooter” situations while doing snatch missions. I also have my CJ Degree, worked for a year on a local police force. I appreciate your advice, and I can promise you this I will be going into my sisters class and developing a escape and evasion plan, both out of the class, and the school. I will also make sure she has the proper equipment to defend herself, and her students so that this doesn’t happen to HER KIDS or HER!!! THANK YOU

    Reply

  6.   Paula Naugle Says:

    Dearest Kris and Beth,

    Thank you so much for making this information available to all of us. Yes, it needs to be reposted, tweeted, FBed, Google+, and very other thing that will help spread the word.

    We were told to review our lock down procedures with our students after the shootings (killings) that took place in Connecticut on Friday. We also need to find funding for the supplies you have listed so that we have a way to ADD. Thank you from the bottom of my (heavy)heart for sharing your expertise. I have shared it with my admin and school board members.

    Give Beth and your sweet girls an extra hug from me.

    Reply

  7.   Karen Janowski Says:

    Beth and Kris,

    Thank you both so much for sharing this information. There are very few people who have this type of knowledge and are willing to share it. Following the information you have blogged about ADD sounds as though it will empower classroom teachers.
    Thank you again.

    Reply

  8.   Kristofor Still Says:

    I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read my blog post! I am hoping that teachers and administrators alike will start making changes so they can provide a protected environment for our children.

    I also want to encourage you or your schools to pursue training so teachers and staff know what to do in the event of an active shooter. Make it known that you all want extensive training on this subject as it may be the most important training you will ever attend.

    Last but not least, remember that you as teachers and administrators should never take the position of sheep. You need to consider yourself the sheep dog as it is you who is looking after the flock!

    Reply

  9.   EdTechSandyK Says:

    Kris and Beth, thank you for sharing this important information. I have shared it via Twitter and Facebook, and have re-posted it on my own blog (http://edtechsandyk.blogspot.com/2012/12/in-wake-of-newtown-preparing-for-worst.html). Let us hope this continues to spread and starts serious conversations in our schools. Students and educators deserve to be able to learn in the safest possible environments and need to be prepared when that safety is threatened. Thank you again. ~ Sandy

    Reply

  10.   Kristofor Still Says:

    In my above reply, I spoke about teachers and administrators and their need to be the sheepdogs instead of the sheep. I wrote about this because I know that teachers tend to be rule followers. Following rules can be good in some instances, however there is no one set of rules that should be followed in the event of an active shooter. These scenarios are ever changing and no one scenario has the same ending. This is why I believe schools need to formulate policy that allows teachers to feel empowered to make decisions based on the totality of the circumstances.

    I am urging you as teachers and administrators to start preparing yourself mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter. As a Law Enforcement Officer, SWAT Team member and Sniper, I am always mentally preparing myself as to how I will handle different situations. For example, I know that someday I may need to pull the trigger on a violent offender. Do I want to do this? Absolutely not, however I know I may be forced to do this and continually play these scenarios out in my head so I can react appropriately. You as teachers and administrators can do the same. Start asking yourself what you will do in the event of an active shooter.

    How will you respond?
    Where will you take your students once you leave the school?
    Will you stop to help the wounded or dead in the hallways on the way out or will you do everything you can to save those who you know can be saved?
    Will you go into lockdown?
    Will you fight until your last breath to save your students from the evil that decided to to prey on your class or your school?

    I know these are questions that many of you never thought you would have to ask yourself as teachers. Some of you may read this and realize this is not what you signed on for. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a polite society and this is a harsh reality that we all have to face and prepare for.

    So where do you start? Start by going over your current policy with administration and urge them to formulate an active shooter policy that allows teachers and staff to feel empowered to act and make good common sense decisions based on the totality of the circumstances. Ask for training and guest speakers to come to your school. Take a closer look at your classroom and school, then start formulating your own plans on how you will react. Ask your school to purchase the items I listed in my above blog so you have the tools you need to fight, escape, communicate, or treat the wounded in your classroom. If the school will not buy them, go purchase them yourself. Think of it as an inexpensive life insurance policy for you and your students. Ask your school to place a full time armed security officer or police officer on staff that is there during school hours. Start playing out these horrific scenarios in your head so you can be prepared. Remember that in times of crisis, you cannot be the one who panics. The children will follow your lead if you remain calm an in control.

    As a Law Enforcement Officer, husband, and parent, I am asking you to start preparing both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter crisis. You owe it to yourself, your family, your staff, and your students!

    Reply

  11.   Jodie Morgenson Says:

    Thank you Beth and Kristofor. I, too, would like to repost this in my blog. I will, of course, give proper attribution, but you have expertise that I do not and your message is an important one. I don’t have a very big audience, but for those who do read my blog, this will be an important one.

    Reply

  12.   Adrienne Albregts Says:

    Thank you for this post, Kris and Beth. These are very good concrete tips, and as the social media marketer of an EdTech company, I would be glad to post this on Compass Learning’s social channels. I hope we don’t have to use these tips, but personally, I will have A.D.D. committed to memory…. Thank you again.

    Reply

    •   Beth Still Says:

      Adrienne,
      I hope that you are never in a situation where you will need to rely on these tips. Please repost this Compass Learning. Hopefully this post can open the door for meaningful conversations to take place.

      Reply

  13.   Christi Sarver Says:

    I sent this quedtio earlier but not sure it went through. The classrooms on our elementary school open outward do we were wondering if there is anything else that could be used to secure the doors. Could the wedges you suggested be placed in the door jam? Our school administrators were very willing to implement your suggestions and start assembling the readiness boxes. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and giving everyone a plan of action that is both easy to implement and relatively inexpensive. I pray that no other school will have to face such a harrowing situation, buy with your suggestions the staff can at least have a plan of action should they ever face something like that. Thank you in advance and God bless!

    Reply

  14.   Christi Sarver Says:

    I definitely think that would work. Where can they be purchased? My goal is for every class to have all the items you suggest in each classroom by end of year. Since budgets are so tight. I am going to push for donations from both parents and local businesses. NOTHING is more important than out children’s safety.

    Reply

  15.   Mary Clark Says:

    Kris,

    I am presenting this to my principal, but I have a question. Our classroom doors all open out. Will the tactical door wedges work on those doors? Thanks in advance for any advice–in addition to the great advice you’ve already offered.

    Reply

    •   Kristofor Still Says:

      Mary,

      If you have a door that swings out, you will need the tactical door cinch. They are available through botachtactical and are now pictured at the end of my original blog post. Here are the products and there prices. http://www.botachtactical.com/tacwege.html. I just ordered a TacWedge and two TacCinches for $33.00. They have free shipping.

      Reply

      •   Mary Clark Says:

        Thanks, Kris. I shared this with our administrators. My doors are all glass, but the door cinches will help in the classrooms.

        Reply

  16.   Andrea Clark Says:

    I went to the Botach Tactical site and they only sell to law enforcement. Is there any other place you know of to get the TacCinch or similar (we have doors that open out, as well).

    Reply

    •   Beth Still Says:

      I just emailed them and asked them to change their policy to include educators. I told them teachers were, for the most part, on their own to purchase these items for their classrooms. We just purchased a TacCinch last night and I noticed they are sold out of both models today. I will ask Kris to do some checking to see if they are available other places if Botach stands by its policy to only sell to law enforcement and other first responders. I reminded them that the first responders at Sandy Hook Elementary were the teachers.

      Reply

    •   Kristofor Still Says:

      For those of you who are looking for the TacWedge or TacCinch, try this site. I hope they can help. http://www.tacwedge.com/products.php

      Reply

  17.   Jan Wells Says:

    Kris and Beth thank you for sharing. Our district is actively learning and working with our county law enforcement to make some changes (out-dated policy/procedures, conversations with students/staff, practice drills, etc) I’m passing on your blog link to admin, and one of the officers that works with our district.

    Reply

  18.   Allison Says:

    Thank you for taking time to inform educators of something so unexpected in a school day. I am sharing with my school system-
    Many Thanks

    Reply

  19.   Ashton DeMouy Says:

    This is a wonderful post. I am in school at the University of South Alabama and I am majoring in Special Education on the Secondary level. These tips and tools can help save numerous lives if something like this was to happen in my school. Not only if I am a teacher but also as a student at my university. Kris said that a lot of people are in denial that something so tragic can happen in their town, but like my mom always says it’s better to be prepared for the worst than to wait for it to happen and then act. Thank you for these tips!

    Reply

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