School Bus Security & Emergency Preparedness — Have You Properly Tested Your Approaches?

Written By Michael Dorn, Safe Havens International T

he 2017-2018 school year was tragic to a level I have not seen in my 37 years in the field of campus safety. Having provided post-incident assistance for six active shooter and targeted

school shootings over the past 12 months, it has not been pleasant, to say the least. While it is easy to see how hor- rific that year was in lives lost, people severely injured and immeasurable levels of trauma for thousands of people, there are other ways that those incidents will contribute to even more future traumas, injuries and deaths. What I am about to say could be described as heresy

by some people, but the data from nearly 9,000 one- on-one scenario simulations, plus what I have learned providing post-incident assistance for 17 planned school shootings over the years, reveals significant evidence to support my assertions here. For example, the Sandy

Hook attacker continues to cause harm long after his death, by contributing to the increasing levels of fear which in turn, some- times result in ineffective measures that can reduce, rather than enhance, safety. The proliferation of many unsound, ineffective and sometimes dangerous approaches to school safety is especially evident in the sometimes simplistic approaches that are promoted for preparing people to react to active shooter events. These are often inaccurately referred to as “best

but that are not grounded in careful testing and evalua- tion, are having multiple negative outcomes. For example, we have worked numerous tragedies that embodied the most common causes of death. Unfortu- nately, the proven prevention measures for the incidents that cause the most deaths in K12 settings, have been ignored. I believe that problem is due to the over-em- phasis on unreliable active shooter training approaches. In general, based on the type of approaches used in the

Strategies that are emotionally appealing,

but that are not grounded in careful testing and evaluation, are having multiple negative outcomes.”

practices.” Such approaches have wasted vast sums of precious budget dollars and training hours, while more effective strategies that have produced measurable re- sults have been ignored. The resulting fear and anxieties have caused an increasing tendency for school officials to find simple answers for these complex events. As a result, strategies that are emotionally appealing,

24 School Transportation News • MAY 2019

Run, Hide, Fight program, these programs are also typically intensively focused on what to do once a gun is seen or gunfire sounds are heard. Instead, these programs should focus on what can be done to save lives in the minutes, hours and in some cases, days, before a shooting occurs. We have found that school employees who are trained in these approaches score at significantly lower levels than employees who have not been trained in this manner. Some of these approaches

have also resulted in as- tounding records of serious injuries. In some cases, there are clear indications that these approaches contrib- uted to, or directly caused the deaths of students and employees. Injuries have

included not only those sustained during attacks, but in training and drills as well. For example, ERM Insurance documented that over

$1 million in emergency room bills resulted from staff being injured in just one popular training program in Iowa during a 22-month time frame. Multiple civil actions against school and law enforcement officers relating to this program are now slowly making their way through the courts. Other injuries and deaths have occurred during actual shootings in recent years. In those incidents, attackers

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