Beyond Educators – The New Role of Teachers In Our School System
Teachers in our society deserve medals – not only for their role as educators - but for taking on the responsibility of protecting our children from harm and now acting as first responders in a crisis.
- By John Colgan
- March 13, 2019
Did you know that 80% of students surveyed said they feel unsafe in their school, due to fear of gun violence according to a USA Today Poll in March 2018? In fact, the poll concluded that gun violence is the number one fear among students. What can we do as safety and security professionals to help empower students and school staff members in the event a violent incident takes place at their school? In a perfect world, stressing prevention over response is ideal; however many schools across the country are still not properly investing in preventative measures and are leaving their students and staff open and vulnerable to the possibility of a serious threat or attack taking place. How can schools quickly and effectively empower students and staff with the tools to help save lives? At SecureWatch24 (SW24), we work diligently with schools to provide the appropriate tools and procedures to better prepare them for any type of emergency. We have developed powerful action plans to help schools better handle crisis situations.
Our School Safety and Security paradigm acknowledges that it typically takes police on average nine minutes to enter a school after being notified of an incident. Given this delay, students and staff members may indeed need to fend for themselves and assist with attending to the injured in an active shooter situation. Being prepared and trained for an emergency is perhaps more important now than ever before. School officials need to prepare and empower the people who work and learn in our school buildings, because they’re the first people who’ll likely encounter the active shooter. These people have become the real first responders. The school nurses, custodians, students, and especially teachers are the first ones on hand to help the injured. These first people to encounter the threat are actually “Immediate Responders” whereas the responding firefighters, cops, and paramedics are the “Rescuers,” secondary responders.
By adding yet another de facto obligation of “Responder” to our teacher-educators, we have an obligation to ensure that teachers are trained and equipped to effectively react in a crisis situation. It is simply not enough to tell our teachers to Run, Hide, Fight or Avoid, Barricade, Confront. Recent events have shown that they may be called upon to risk their own lives to protect students; and now more than ever they need to be ready for this new challenge. The Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security documented 94 school shooting incidents in 2018, a nearly 60% increase over the previous high of 59 in 2006. The trend suggests that teachers and school administrators might need to act as first responders and medics in the classroom while waiting for EMS, firefighters, and law enforcement (the rescuers) to arrive on the scene. Times have changed from the days when a teacher’s role was to help students adapt socially or read a story; their role has shifted to life savers - helping an injured student survive. While we can no longer limit the definition of emergency responders to those people in uniforms, we can no longer limit teacher training to reading, writing, and arithmetic. If the active shooter poses the most extraordinary threat to the safety and well-being of our school children, the most likely cause of death in such a violent encounter will be bleed out.
One way in which schools across the country can start preparing teachers for the worst-case scenario is by deploying an App-assisted emergency medical kit like the Mobilize Rescue System in conjunction with an interactive AED. Such systems use interactive apps that unite the knowledge and equipment that bystanders need in order to respond to medical emergencies quickly and efficiently. The easily downloadable app will help the MobilizeNOW users assess, manage, and monitor medical emergencies (such as severe bleeding, cardiac arrest, overdoses, seizures, choking, hypothermia and more) when used in conjunction with Mobilize Rescue Systems’ compact trauma and medical emergency unit. SW24 has committed itself to helping students and staff get properly trained and outfitted with these life-saving kits. Three of the company’s four owners are retired members of the New York City Police Department and know from firsthand experience that the difference between life and death in an emergency is often a matter of what the people immediately present at the time of the emergency did or didn’t do. The Mobilize Rescue System was designed to integrate effortlessly with an emergency response plan and ensure school staffs will be better prepared with the knowledge and equipment necessary to respond to medical emergencies resulting from accidents, acts of violence, etc.
The Mobilize Rescue app makes it possible for “first caregivers” to deliver high-quality care by following the ‘just-in-time’ training algorithm,” according to Seth Goldstein, the Director of Training & Education at Mobilize Rescue Systems. The MobilizeNOW course also discusses situational awareness, so that bystanders at the scene of a medical emergency can stay safe while they provide care. Mobilize Rescue Systems’ new technology provides a cost-effective method to equip entire communities, organizations, and individuals to stop massive bleeding while EMS is on the way. The Mobilize Rescue System has been deployed by federal and law enforcement agencies, security and investigative agencies, K-12 schools and universities, public and private organizations, and has already been used to manage multiple medical emergencies across the country. It is considered an essential element of SW24’s best practices in developing the ”people, processes and procedures, technology and hardware” paradigm for enhancing the safety and security “quotient” across school campuses.
At SW24, we believe firmly in preventing a situation from happening in the first place and work with schools to help mitigate risks with our PREVENT Program. This program helps schools by conducting virtual school drills and exercises regularly and testing all critical response and safety systems and procedures to help create a safer environment at schools. The SW24 School Safety Paradigm is rooted in controlling the movement of people and vehicles into and across school campuses. The SW24 PREVENT Program thoroughly assesses the threats and risks to schools through the PREVENT protocol, the Professional Response to Eradicate Violent Events through Networked Technologies. PREVENT is based on the following four principles: Deter the attacker, Delay unauthorized entry into the school, Detect security breaches, and Decrease the risk exposure. SW24 developed the PREVENT Program as a simple yet effective way for schools to thoroughly assess the threats and risks facing them today and recommend immediate steps to help mitigate those risks.
School officials continually need to be educated on what they can do now to help prevent an incident from taking place in the future as deterrence is the best defense. As part of proper preparation, schools must be proactive in ensuring that emergency response systems are in place and working properly. A campus-wide emergency notification system is as crucial a component of school safety as is educating staff on how to react in an active shooter situation. At SW24, we work with school and local emergency responder agencies, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and co-partnership in creating effective and cohesive emergency response plans.
Recognizing the enhanced roles of school teachers and staff as educators and immediate responders to the mass school shootings that have plagued our country; the safety and security technology community is challenged to develop preventative strategies against this type of violence. Until those strategies are developed and practiced widely, a unified approach to school safety and security will necessarily focus on the tactical aspects of event response and preparedness training. SW24 is committed to improving the tactical posture of its school clients while simultaneously working with those public and private entities that fund, design and build schools to ensure that the critical infrastructure we call our kids’ schools will be more attack-resistant and that the schools’ occupants will have a higher likelihood of survival, given the training, tools, and new skill sets with that we equip schools with now and in the future.