The Academic Guardian Initiative ™ is part of our Escape Alive series of programs. Throughout our time teaching Escape Alive to individuals there have tragically been many school attacks and shootings. As teachers participated in our program they voiced their concerns about safety in their schools. The "lock down" and "hide in place" drills at their schools left them with little direction and no options on what to do if they came face to face with a threat!
In 2013 FEMA prepared a report for the US Department of Education named "GUIDE FOR DEVELOPING HIGH-QUALITY SCHOOL EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLANS" (https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/33599). The report includes guidelines for planning, creating, implementing, and maintaining Emergency Operations Plans (EOP) for schools for a number of emergencies that can occur.
There are 3 main areas of an incident addressed- before, during, and after. The Academic Guardian Initiative gives suggestions for the "before" time frame and training in the "during" time frame as it applies to those who come face to face with the threat in an active attacker scenario. Our program does not look to replace or contradict current EOP's developed with local first responders. It is a complement to those EOP's.
From the FEMA report: "Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because of this, individuals must be prepared to deal with an active shooter situation before law enforcement officers arrive on the scene." This is one of the areas our program focuses on. What options do our teachers and administrators have between the onset of a situation and the time when the initial first responders arrive. This is the time when the most lives can be lost.
Some other key points from the FEMA report as it pertains to Active Shooter incidents:
Each person carries a threefold responsibility. The second of which is to learn the best steps for survival when faced with an active shooter situation.
Despite prompt law enforcement officer responses, most shooting incidents were stopped by means other than law enforcement intervention.
School EOP's should include courses of action that will describe how students and staff can most effectively respond to an active shooter situation to minimize the loss of life, and teach and train on these practices, as deemed appropriate by the school.
No single response fits all active shooter situations; however, making sure each individual knows his or her options for response and can react decisively will save valuable time. Depicting scenarios and considering response options in advance will assist individuals and groups in quickly selecting their best course of action.
There are three basic options: run, hide, or fight. You can run away from the shooter, seek a secure place where you can hide and/or deny the shooter access, or incapacitate the shooter to survive and protect others from harm.
Fight: If neither running nor hiding is a safe option, as a last resort when confronted by the shooter, adults in immediate danger should consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers, and chairs. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement officers arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases they physically subdued the attacker. While talking to staff about confronting a shooter may be daunting and upsetting for some, they should know that they may be able to successfully take action to save lives.
Our goal with the Academic Guardian Initiative is to give our teachers and staff a fighting chance in the face of the worse possible scenario. Preparing for that unthinkable encounter with someone who wishes to do them and our children harm. Not sitting idly by as more lives are senselessly lost.