Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adults (Teachers, Staff, etc.) Need To Maintain Control and Morale during a School Incident

A Mexican Teacher Setting The Example:  The accompanying video is of a kindergarten teacher (Martha Rivera Alanis) in Mexico. The teacher is keeping her young students calm during a drug cartel shootout adjacent to the school where five people outside of the school were killed. The teacher and the students were not injured. The teacher keeps the students focused on singing a song as you can hear the gunfire. While this was not an Active Shooter attack against the school, each incident requires adults to assess what is occurring and influence as positive an outcome as you can influence.

Points for Consideration:  The adults (teachers, substitutes, cafeteria staff, etc.) are the authority figure in the classroom (library, cafeteria, main office, etc.) who needs to maintains their composure in a crisis. Students will often gauge their response based upon the adult's example and response to a crisis. In numerous past discussions with students about their Sept. 11th experiences, the memory that most often sticks out in their minds is how their teacher and other adults in the building / room reacted on that fateful day. A hazardous incident can be scary enough, but it can be made even worse by adults losing their bearing and emotions in front of students. As I have often told young military leaders, that in a crisis situation they need to control their emotions in front of their subordinates to maintain group control and unit morale. Teachers, staff, first responders, and military leaders are human and have human reactions which can't be denied, but need to be self-managed in a crisis if at all possible. Sometimes you need to "act calm" even if you don't feel that way. Focusing on the professional tasks you need to complete in an incident will distract you from your personal feelings. In a crisis, "the eyes of Texas" are upon you so always consider what you are doing, saying, and even how your face looks. Try to keep the students focused on something (keeping quiet, singing, playing hangman, etc.) appropriate for the incident at hand.

We all hope we will have the presence of mind to help our students RESPOND to a crisis which helps lessen the psychological trauma in the RECOVERY to an incident.   

Monday, June 20, 2011

NYPD Releases Comprehensive Active Shooter Document for Study

The NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau released a document pertaining to the Active Shooter phenomenon titled: NYPD Active Shooter Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation. (If you have difficulty with the link, just Google search the title). It is a PDF file document that has four parts and an Appendix.

Part I - Introduction
Part II - Recommendations
Part III - Analysis
Part IV - Analytic Methodology

Appendix - a compendium of a variety of 281 active shooter incidents in a variety of locations ; office, commercial business, factory . warehouse, SCHOOLS, and other locations.


Monday, June 6, 2011


On June 3rd, 2011 at approx. 1230 pm, in Wildwood New Jersey a tragic event took place where a 11 year old student fell to her death from over a 100 feet from the top of a Ferris Wheel ride during a school sponsored trip. It appears the deceased was the only passenger in that particular Ferris wheel car at the time and fell while it was in motion. The Morey's Mariner's Landing Pier sponsored its annual EDUCATION EXTRAVAGANZA as a day where the park invited students and teachers. The Ferris Wheel had been recently inspected for safety with no previous findings. The loss of life, especially a student, that a parent or guardian entrusted to the child's safety to their school is especially tragic. The park was closed for a day and reopened a day later. She was treated at the scene, but was announced deceased at the hospital 45 minutes later.

Points for Discussion:
  • The serious injury, abduction, or death of a student during any school sponsored activity (school day, sporting event, or trip) is perhaps the most unsettling and tragic incident that could occur for a school, but it can unfortunately happen. 
  • The reaction of most educators to a tragic incident is "why did this happen?"..."how did this happen?"..."how could we have prevented this from happening?"
  • Following a tragic incident there will be an investigation and then undoubtedly there will be lawsuits. While everyone knows "hindsight is 20/20" especially when assigning blame or culpability for an injury or death of a student.
    • What were the school district's policies or procedures for school trips?
    • Were they sufficient to ensure the safety and security of students and school personnel?
    • Did the school event planners, executors, and supervisors follow the spirit and letter of the school district policies and procedures for the school trip?
    • Did unusual circumstances occur that were not covered by the school district policies and procedures, and what decisions and action did they take to ensure the safety and security of the students? 
  • The school will need to RECOVER from the incident which starts as they RESPOND to an incident. 
  • Individual students and staff members will require crisis counseling taking an individual approach. 
  • The school will need small group counseling taking a collective approach.