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Thoughts on Active Shooter Training

Once upon a time, when I first started teaching, Active Shooter training was different. In fact, my first school didn’t have anything of the sort. But once I was teaching public school there was a 15 or so minute video we all had to watch and take some little quiz on, and that was that. That was even last year.

Now it’s different. A lot different.

Now we have police officers stationed in schools. Our Vice Principal is an ex detective. The cop stationed here is ex SWAT. Even with new and improved security measures everywhere around us, our training has still become that much more intense.

Today we thought we were getting a half hour presentation (rather than a video) about A.S. threats. Instead we were in for a two hour seminar on “Run/Hide/Fight”! A two hour seminar that took half of our lunch hour. A two hour seminar in which most questions were answered with, “well we can’t give you an exact answer to that because each scenario is gonna be different.” Which, for the record, we get. Obviously.

They had us watch videos from several school shootings, and listen to dispatch recordings from those and several others. We watched videos of talks by survivors and witnesses. They had demonstrations, using volunteers, to show ways to disable a suspect when you can’t get away.

It was fairly intense. For two, stinkin, hours, man. I was a fidgety bundle of nerves when they finally let us leave. I don’t know how I’m gonna think of anything else all day or all weekend.

I know that this is now a reality for teachers and those who work and learn in schools. It shouldn’t be, but it is. There’s the whole cliché that says “yeah it happens but it won’t happen to me” – I know I definitely feel that way. It’s insane to think about. What are the odds? Well let me tell you, the odds are increasing. A full 25% of shooter situations happen on school campuses, and that percentage is on the rise. That may not seem like a large number, but consider that schools are places that are 1: supposedly more secure to begin with, 2: places guns and weapons are already completely banned for anyone, 3: primarily occupied by children and minors, and 4: places where more rigorous vetting is done for employment than the majority of professional occupations. If a full quarter of our gun incidents are taking place in schools then that speaks to how determined people are becoming to carry out this sort of violence.

As an aside I would like to mention that I am completely PRO SECOND AMENDMENT. Yes, I’m a teacher, and yes there’s scary shit out there, but I am foremost a citizen that believes our constitutional rights are paramount, especially in this day and age. 

It does get into your head though. Especially when this stuff happens in your own state or county. When it’s closer to home you realize that it’s really happening. As a third grade teacher with anywhere from 20-30 eight year old kiddos, it can petrify me.

I had a dream over the summer about a school shooting. Myself and another teacher were in the hallway walking to our classrooms when we realized there was a shooter in our hallway. He was in my friend’s classroom, and for whatever reason we started running towards her room. The guy stepped out and aimed his gun at us. He’d already shot a lot of people and I suppose somehow we knew he only had one shot left to his name. We both knew, and we kept running because there are over 80 third graders in that one tiny corner of the building, and those are our kids. We were right beside each other and we knew he was going to shoot, and while we hoped he would miss his mark, we knew full well that he would probably hit one of the two full grown women running towards him. It was so realistic and tangible watching him pull the trigger and waiting that one long agonizing second to see where his shot fell.

It went right through my throat, in that soft little spot just above where your clavicle meets your sternum.

I was still running and figured I may as well continue forward as long as I could. I couldn’t really feel pain, but I knew I was through. I looked at Amy and she looked at me and she knew too, and she kept running because we both knew that’s what she had to do. Everything got fuzzy for me and I put my hand to my throat and felt my finger stop the hole of blood gushing out. But everything just got fuzzier and fuzzier, and that was that. I woke up with my one of my medals on my scapular lying right over that spot on my throat – just that small amount of pressure made the dream tangible and real as I struggled to wake up.

Thank goodness it was just a dream, right? But would I ever have had that dream if that sort of thing wasn’t on teachers’ minds from time to time? I doubt it. I’m not that kind of dreamer. It shook me up a lot that day and for a few days afterwards.

I don’t know why I’m babbling about this of all things. Odds are we’ll be fine here, that this isn’t a school where that will happen. But we also thought that about sexual abuse, and that happened here, to a very young girl. Every school this has ever happened at thought the same. Churches and schools used to be somewhat sacred. Now it seems that that level of corrupt dark devastation is exactly the sort of thing people are after; an evil worth pursuing.

People don’t shoot up banks for money anymore. They shoot up schools because their girlfriend dumped them or their classmates bullied them.

What is this?

What a sick time to be alive.

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