Friday, December 21, 2012

Initial Observations from the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

  • This school had trained in lockdown drills and procedures. Teachers and students knew what to do and they did it which lessened the tragedy. Had the law enforcement first responders not arrived or were not activated by the 911 call, the shooter had hundreds of rounds and victims left. Their (school leadership, faculty, students, and law enforcement) preparedness saved lives. 
  • The shooter may break into the facility or room even if doors are locked. This speaks to the “Fight / Resist” to make it harder for them to make a smooth entry into the building / room.
  • It appears as the adult(s) (Principal pictured above) fighting the shooter slowed the shooter and bought time for others. If someone is going to kill you, don’t make it easy for them. Inaction is not an option.
  • Some people heard “booms”, gunshots, or a confrontation over the school announcement system.  There will be different ways of finding out there is an violent threat in the building.
  • Teachers hiding, reassessing and improving their hide site for students was critical to saving lives.
  • Teachers kept students calm and due to their young age kept them distracted and occupied.
  • The arrival of Law Enfocement in the rapid Active Shooter response is believed to have influenced the shooter to kill himself as he had 100s of rounds of ammo left and more potential victims.  (The sooner the Police show and close with the shooter, the sooner many shooters kill themselves similar to Columbine;  Nickel Mine,Pa;  Va Tech, and now Newtown, CT.)
  • Sometimes Running (as a response) to get out of threat area or as part of the directed evacuation is key. Responding Police clearing the school directed many children to Run to the Firehouse.
  • You may have to evacuate students / people past a violent (blood, bodies, etc.) crime scene.
  • School and First Responders had a known location for evacuation and student reunification (the firehouse).

RECOVERY RELATED:  Many of the recovery decisions are almost surreal after the fact so it is important to plan for them ahead of time, despite how distasteful the topics and decision points are. They won't get easier after an incident. 
  • The school is a crime scene to be processed for days, maybe a week. Once cleared, then and only then can clean up and repair happen.  Depending on when this happens, how long do you close school for? When do you re-open? 
  • It is more than just cleaning up the crime scene (bio-hazard clean-up, repair damage & bullet holes). What parts of the building off limits (library at Columbine, Kindergarten class at Sandy Hook, Norris Hall at Va Tech etc.) and how does that effect classes and a return to normalcy.
  • Crisis Intervention and Counseling services for everyone, ask for state and federal assistance. It is required immediately and will continue for years to come.
  • Loss of key Personnel (the Principal and School Psychologist, Teachers, Staff) calls for a rapid decision for replacing school leadership and Subject matter personnel. The decision for the assumption of leadership in the absence of others not being there, maybe temporary or permanent.
  • Coming back into school needs to be well thought out and phased: Parents visit school, Parents and Students visit school, Parents and students go to school and classes, Students go to school with some Parents visiting.
  • Columbine HS planned it as “taking back our school” and they excluded media due to the adversarial & invasive relationship they had at that time.


1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...
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