Teachers receive training for school shooting incidents
Feb 16, 2013 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
DALLAS CITY, Ill -- Teachers and staff members from two Hancock County schools Friday got a first-hand lesson in what an actual school shooting sounds like.
An Illinois State Police Trooper played the role of a school shooter as gunshots and explosions were heard throughout Dallas City Elementary School.
As the test was going on, ISP Trooper Dan Leezer asked the teachers to tell him what they heard.
One teacher said the gun shots sounded like a balloon popping. Another teacher said she could hear shell casings as they hit the floor.
Leezer said these things are important to tell the police during an active shooting.
"We want to give you some exposure as to what this may sound like," Leezer said. "It's important to understand what sounds you may hear because you have to communicate that to the police."
When an incident is taking place, Leezer said any information is valuable.
"If you think something sounds like a rifle or if you see shell casings on the floor, tell the dispatcher," he said. "It can predetermine some of the things we need to take into consideration."
This drill was part of a school safety seminar at Dallas City Elementary School Friday afternoon.
Sixty teachers and staff members from LaHarpe and Dallas City elementary schools met in the computer lab at Dallas City Elementary School to listen to Leezer and ISP Trooper Neal Merry share critical information about ways to respond to an active shooter.
An "active shooter" is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and other populated area.
"We know that has been a hot topic lately with the shootings in Newtown, Conn. But we actually developed this presentation and started going to schools about two years ago," Leezer said.
Friday's three-hour presentation included a discussion on the history of active shooters, including those at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University and how teachers and staff effectively can react to an active shooter while working with law enforcement.
Merry said he wanted the teachers to understand during a school shooting, police officers initially will have to go past those who are injured to find the shooter.
"We don't want you to think we train police officers to be heartless," he said. "However, if we come into a situation where there is an active shooter in the school, they are going to bypass injured individuals because we can not help people until we stop the shooting."
Leezer also explained ways teachers can protect themselves.
"A textbook can be used as a weapon," Leezer said. "You can use a chair to defend yourself or a fire extinguisher. If it's a last resort and you feel like you are going to die, folks, it's OK to hit someone in the head."
During an incident, Leezer also told the teachers to remain calm and cooperate with police.
"The police may stop you and ask questions," Leezer said. "Expect to be treated like a suspect until they determine you are not a suspect. They are not there to be bullies, but they don't know who is and who is not a suspect."
The information shared really hit home for teachers and staff.
"I hope an event doesn't happen in our school where we have to use this training," said Lori Bilbrey, principal of Dallas City Elementary School. "But I'm glad we are becoming more prepared."
Kathy Kendall, a fifth-grade teacher at LaHarpe Elementary School, said the training was important to have.
"Every day you are with a group of children that we care about, and we will do anything to protect them," Kendall said. "This helps us protect those kids. This was definitely a benefit."
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