Santa Fe High School in Texas has lost at least nine people in a school shooting today, May 18. Two suspects are in custody, one of whom has been identified as the gunman and is a current student of the school. Additionally, explosive devices have been found both on and off campus. The schoolwide search is ongoing.
We join the nation in expressing our deepest sympathies for the Santa Fe community.
AEGIS Security & Investigations has had the unfortunate responsibility of reporting the numerous school shootings as incidents continue to increase. Our goal is to educate the public about run, hide, fight practices and work to educate every school administrator, teacher, student and parent about active shooter indicators so that these devastating attacks will stop. With each shooting, we look at what we do in our own active shooter training as well as what we think could prevent a future shooting in a similar setting. As an experienced security team that works closely with schools in the Los Angeles area to enhance their security tactics, especially those pertaining to active shooters, we preach a single tenant: schools need enhanced active shooter training TODAY.
AEGIS offers active shooter training programs specifically designed for schools, and since nearly 90 percent of California schools alone are ill-equipped and under-prepared for active shooter incidents, we are vamping up our mission to educate students, teachers and administrators on the topic. Lack of funding combined with limited active shooter education has left K-12 public schools in California ill-prepared to handle such a situation. To read the full report: CLICK HERE.
Additionally, the Everbridge Emergency Management and Safety (EMS) Solutions Active Shooter Preparedness Research Report from 2017 found that while companies (whether in education or not) view active shooter situations to be a major concern, they are still not tackling the problem. Organizations need to focus on preparing and educating their staff to be able to manage such a situation.
Whether an announcement is made by security or administration or you hear the actual gun shots, the first choice is run. If you can get out of range of the active shooter and to safety, do so immediately. Leave your personal items and find a safe place quickly and quietly. Such a space needs to be out of range of the gun fire and any other potential danger related to the active shooter situation. Once you are safe, help others by preventing them from going toward the the location of the shooter. Call 911 and give them as much information as possible: provide a description of the shooter, a location of the shooter, weapons they are using, if known, and the amount of ammunition that has been used, if known.
If you cannot run, you have to hide. Unlike a fire drill where you have to drop cover and hold, or an earthquake drill where you have to take cover under sturdy tables or desks, you need to find sturdy cover and concealment. A teacher reported today that she took this exact action. She hid 19 students in a closet to protect them from the shooter.
Remember: there is a difference between cover and concealment. If it’s not thick and sturdy made of durable material, chances are you can hide from the bullets, but you can’t stop them. Find a room, whether it is a closet, office, classroom, or break room, and lock and barricade the door. Go somewhere where you won’t be seen. Silence your cell phone and turn off the lights.
If you cannot run or hide and danger is imminent, you have to fight. Work with other people around you to attack from all sides. Improvise weapons and use whatever you can find to stab, slash, strike, or amplify your attack. Fight with everything you have. Do not stop until the attacker is neutralized.
When law enforcement officers arrive, they will not stop to help you or other victims. Their single task is to find and neutralize the active shooter. If you can walk out on your own, do so. They’ll point you in the right direction. Wait for other police officers outside in a safe place.
In addition to teaching run, hide, fight to students, teachers and other school staff, your campus should make efforts to prepare for and mitigate threats. When it comes to preparing your school for active shooter situations, there are several steps.
First, conduct a professional security audit that includes a full policy review. including emergency management, active shooter response, local law enforcement and medical response capabilities, training, policies and procedures, communication systems, adherence to safe schools regulations, anti-bullying initiatives, the school wide positive behavior support plan, memorandums of understanding, and mutual aid agreements.
Second, conduct a full vulnerability assessment of the physical property to include access control, screening, lighting, camera systems, the use of contractors, visibility, environmental factors, and targeting.
Third, conduct an analysis of each observation, assessing its individual characteristics and then classifying it for further action. Once the analysis is complete, countermeasures should be defined for each shortfall.
The fourth step would be penetration testing. This would be a real test of security arranged by the security consultant and administrators. This test is not designed to scare students or faculty but rather to determine vulnerabilities and readiness.
The final step in the initial process is education of school faculty and staff related to understanding the warning signs of various kinds of bullying as well as psychological disorders. Per the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, when violence is witnessed, a correlation with decreased school attendance and academic performance is found across the board. Students who suffer from bullying and other forms of school-based violence tend to perform poorly, earning average grades of D and F. The only way we can begin to resolve school violence in the long term is with better recognition and treatment.
The civilian active shooter training provided by AEGIS is intended to build on “run, hide, fight,” the long-standing method of saving yourself in these events. Workshops run from an hour to several hours dependent on the needs of the organization and individuals. Our most highly sought after workplace violence training program is our one-hour plus add-on Run, Hide, Fight Live Fire Demo; participants begin with a lecture and basic training on how to handle the situation and are then exposed to sample scenarios in which they practice those same skills. The effectiveness of this scenario can be viewed when on CBS here.
AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people locates, and background investigations. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit www.aegis.com.
By Chelsea Turner