Learning specialist Kelley Brown practices using a fire extinguisher to defend herself against a dummy. She first used the extinguisher to spray the dummy and then went in with brute force. (Photo used by permission of Emily Allshouse)

Faculty participates in safety training for school shooters

Ever since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, Virginia Tech University and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, administrators have been forced to contemplate school safety and adjust accordingly.

The entire Country Day faculty and staff were given training to prepare for an emergency – specifically for an active shooter – on Aug. 24, a few days before school started.

Knowledge Saves Lives (KSL), the company that provided the training, has a program designed to keep faculty and students safe until first responders arrive, according to biology teacher Kellie Whited. KSL is comprised of 21 emergency-response professionals, such as police officers, firefighters and military veterans, according to their website.

According to history teacher Sue Nellis, this was the first time faculty has gone through shooter-specific training in the 36 years that she’s taught at Country Day.

Initially, Nellis said she was stressed about being put into “nerve-wracking situations.”

“Practice for something like this made me a little sad,” Nellis said. “This made it really real (for me).”

During the program, all students, parents and visitors were prohibited from entering campus. However, senior Blake Lincoln stumbled upon the trainingaccidentally.

He drove to campus and noticed KSL signs and a security guard in the parking lot.

“I saw the signs and quickly left and went to Loehmann’s (Plaza),” he said.

Because the old emergency plan dated back to 2000, according to head of high school Brooke Wells, a new plan “has been in the works for several years.”

Wells said the experience was fascinating.

Faculty and staff listen to a presentation made by a member of Knowledge Saves Lives, a company that provides emergency preparedness training. (Photo used by permission of Allshouse)

“Any training for any situation creates muscle memory,” he said.

Whited agreed, saying that KSL gave faculty members tips about how to utilize what they have in the classroom and how to advise students in emergency situations.

They went through a series of workshops on how to respond in various theoretical situations. For example, teachers used fire hydrants as defense mechanisms against practice dummies.

“(I was) really happy that (the staff) did the training; it’s nice to have a plan,” Whited said.

Teachers were also given a chance to ask about their personal classrooms. The KSL professionals provided specific suggestions and customized plans depending on the size, location and surroundings of the various classrooms.

“(It was) incredibly useful,” Whited said. “It made me feel more confident in those situations.”

Nellis agreed, echoing Whited’s statement.

“The (mock) situations made me immediately think, ‘Now what do I have to do? I have to deal with this right now,’” she said.

According to Wells, the school is waiting for a report with a full evaluation on all safety concerns before creating their new emergency plan.

For more information regarding safety at Country Day and how other schools in Sacramento are dealing with increasing gun violence, read the upcoming issue of the Octagon, which will be published Sept. 18.

—By Jackson Crawford

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