Berkley School District Teachers to Receive Active Shooter Training
Homeland Security Division officials are preparing educators from schools throughout Oakland County on how to respond in case of an attack, following December’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
Run, hide or fight.
Those three actions may save your life in an active shooter situation similar to December’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, according to Oakland County Homeland Security Division officials.
It is one of the lessons they will teach Oakland County school administrators, teachers and school staff during 2 1/2-hour training sessions designed to prepare educators for what to do during an attack.
"We have district staff signed up to go to future sessions in February," Berkley School District Communications Supervisor Jessica Stilger said. "We have asked each building to send one person from their crisis team to the training. After the training sessions are over, we will be bringing all principals together to go over what was learned, so they can take the information back to their staff and crisis teams."
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The district is reviewing its security measures in the wake of the Newtown shooting. Every building in the district already keeps its doors locked, has a buzz-in system with a video feed and conducts fire drills, tornado drills and lock-down drills.
"Participating in the active shooter training is a good opportunity for the district to add additional security measures and information to our crisis plans," Stilger said.
Preparing for the worst
Approximately 85 educators from throughout Oakland County focused on the kind of decisions one may have to make in an active shooter situation during a training session Jan. 24 at the Executive Office Building in Waterford.
The important takeaway – react quickly.
Teachers were told to have an evacuation plan prepared and as a first action to flee a bad situation, bringing their students with them, but only if it’s safe to do so. If it is not safe, the next step is to hide, preferably behind something that is made of metal, concrete or block. And, if all else fails, as a last resort, fight.
“If you can’t escape or run, then throw a table, swing a purse, throw a fire extinguisher,” said Homeland Security Specialist Michael Loper. “Commit 110 percent with anything you can get your hands on.”
Statistics show 43 percent of active shooters will take their own life. They come prepared to die, Loper said, not prepared to fight.
Teachers were also told what to expect and how to react to first responders:
- Avoid pointing, screaming, yelling.
- Do not ask officers for help or directions.
- Evacuate with hands up and fingers open. Officers arriving are in a high stress situation – they are in hunter mode – and even a cellphone in your hand can look like a weapon, officials said.
Making a unified plan
In addition to helping school districts prepare an action plan, Homeland Security is also working with law enforcement across the county on a unified response plan, Loper said.
“If an event happened at Royal Oak High School, and Berkley and Troy police were called in to help, we want everyone to be on the same page, regardless of what department they belong to,” said Loper.
"We’re a consortium. We’re not little kingdoms anymore,” as one official put it.