Educators train to survive active school shooters

- Eight minutes.

On average, that’s the time it takes for police to arrive at a school after a report of an active shooter.

A New York homicide detective, who is training teachers and school workers how to survive a mass shooting, says what people do during those crucial minutes is the difference between life and death.

“You can have the best locks, the best glass, the best doors, the best security measures, but if the shooter is already in your room, or in your building, you need to know how to respond,” said Armoured One Founder Tom Czyz. 

Over the course of four days, Czyz and a team of current and former police officers, military leaders, psychologists and educators outline everything from how to get the mindset of a survivor to self-defense tactics to how to recognize gun shots.

The training is for teachers, office workers, cafeteria staff, even bus drivers and playground monitors. Students do not participate.

The training, he said, is needed now more than ever.

Since 2013, there have been more than 200 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that works to reduce gun violence in the United States.

On Tuesday, in the rural Northern California community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, a gunman stormed a school and six other locations, killing four people and harming 14 more, including seven children at Rancho Tehama Elementary School. One child was shot and others were injured by flying debris, such as broken glass.

A Tehama County police official said an immediate lockdown at the school likely saved lives.

"It is monumental that that school went on lockdown," said Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston. "I really truly believe that we would have had a horrific bloodbath in that school" if the gunman had been able to get inside.

Johnston urged other schools to practice their lockdown procedures and Czyz couldn’t agree more.

“They absolutely did everything right,’’ said Czyz, a father of six who is married to a teacher. “They saved countless lives. This could have easily been like the Sandy Hook shooting with 20 people dead.”

Training participants are taught to run, barricade and fight.

 “If you are barricaded (the shooter) has to use more energy to get to you, and more time,’’ Czyz said. “They are looking for an easy target, so the harder you make it for them, the less likely they are to get to you. “

Even though schools nationwide have spent millions of dollars on metal detectors, electronic door locks, bullet-proof glass, intruder alarms, and security cameras, there are others things school employees can do, such as learning to recognize the sound of gun fire, in case of an active shooter.

Czyz said sometimes people rationalize that the sounds of gun fire are actually fire crackers or a truck backfiring.

“Good people actually make excuses for bad people,’’ he said. “But that time wasted on thinking about what it is,  is time where people could be shot.”

The training is done gradually in manageable time blocks over several days. It starts with participants watching videos about active shootings and ends with role playing an active shooting incident.

“It’s not a police academy and it’s not a boot camp,’’ said Czyz. “We don’t want to come across too hard, too fast.”

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