Taking the drill seriously

Remember the good old days when you were young and the only thing breaking up the routine of school was the occasional fire drill? Teachers and principals told you how important it was to pay attention and know what to do in case of a fire. Take the drills seriously, they urged.

You didn’t. Many children, even teenagers who ought to be aware of the danger, don’t. School staff members understood that and knew that in case of an emergency, it would be up to them to safeguard students.

Times have changed. Evacuation exercises in case of fire now seem less relevant than “active shooter drills.”

Some studies indicate children are safer in schools today than they were several years ago. That matters not to those who worry about their children.

Officials at every school in our area ought to be conducting active shooter drills and preparing both students and adults for the possibility, however small, that someone with a gun may show up for class. Such training can be the difference between life and death.

As we report periodically, many law enforcement agencies offer training for how to handle the threat of violence in schools, churches, office buildings, etc. One popular strategy is the ALICE method. The acronym stands for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.”

In addition to understanding the ALICE framework, school personnel need details on how to implement it. How does one alert everyone in a building to the presence of a threat? How does one counter someone with a gun? What is the safest way to evacuate? What if the threat is carrying a bomb rather than a gun?

And finally, how do adults handle a room or hallway full of children in jeopardy, motivating them to do what is necessary to keep them safe?

This is a whole lot more complicated than a fire drill. School administrators need to address it adequately.

That may mean taking valuable time away from instruction for both school personnel and children. So be it.

Education officials should be as certain as possible that both students and school personnel are prepared for emergencies. The occasional drill, supervised by law enforcement personnel, can help determine whether more training is necessary.

If so, it ought to be provided. Period.

By Kerry Minor

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