Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting – Early Lessons

The Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting is the fourth K-12 Active Shooter Incident since Sandy Hook, according the the current FBI definition of an Active Shooter Incident.

As with any such incident, the information that has come out has shifted.  As of the time of this posting there are two dead, including the shooter, and four wounded, three of them critically.

A lone gunman entered the cafeteria and targeted a group of students. After shooting his targets, he reportedly shot himself in the head.  Local news coverage showed a student describing what she went through on the other side of the school.  She stated that the fire alarm went off, and that the students evacuated, but were then told they were in lockdown.  They had to return to the school.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School is a large school of over 2,000 students. This story exemplifies the chaos that often accompanies these terrible incidents.  Prior planning can help schools deal with chaos, and maintain a higher state of order that can help save lives.

Of interest is the location of the shooting.  A school cafeteria is an open, unsecured area that requires special considerations when planning to respond to events like this.  Safe Havens International teaches a protocol called Room Clear that would have been very useful in this situation.

Room Clear involves students quickly and safely exiting a room or area to a pre-arranged place of safety.  In classrooms, it is very useful for removing students from the source of violent or emotional outbursts.  In this type of situation, Room Clear could be used to get students from the cafeteria to an area of safety.

The use of this protocol, like others, requires planning and practice. It also requires the understanding that various situations for which Room Clear can be used may happen.  This requires that planning occur now, that practice using it occur now.  Room Clear will not prevent an Active Shooter Incident, or any other incident. What it can do is remove students from a source of danger, and get them to a place of safety.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting

Police in North Carolina practice clearing a school hallway, similar to what was done today during the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Shooting.

 

 

 

How to prepare Schools for Ebola?

A lingering question that has come across my desk at least a dozen times lately is, “Dr. Shepherd, what are you recommending that schools do about the Ebola crisis?” My response is simple – the same thing that I recommended for schools during the pandemic influenza crisis – make a plan and follow that plan.

The current Ebola situation should be an exercise of biological incident planning for schools. Although, we have not seen US schools completely affected (although there have been a few scares), it is important that school officials begin meeting with local and state public health entities to form a plan of action. There are a few things that schools can do now to prepare for Ebola (and subsequently prepare for the upcoming flu season):

  1. Begin/continue universal health precautions campaigns. Hand washing is still a great infection control method.
  2. Establish and practice disinfecting/decontamination guidelines for all school facilities including support buildings, school buses, and other transportation vehicles.
  3. Developing NIMS (National Incident Management System) compliant protocols, location, equipment and staff assignments. School nurses are the front line people and should be a part of the command staff if not incident commanders of biological incident for schools.
  4. Encouraging parents to have alternative child care plans should closures be necessary in containment and building disinfection/decontamination efforts.
  5. Developing a mental health plan for students and staff, in conjunction with local mental health services staff to implement during an incident. Do not forget that fear, anxiety and panic should be expected and it is important that plans are in place to communicate facts adequately.

It is unlikely that a full blown outbreak will happen, but maintaining a state of readiness for Ebola will prepare all schools and youth based organizations for almost any public health emergency.

For more on this topic, sign up for our newsletter and look for the issue that we will be releasing this week with more detailed information on planning and preparedness for Ebola and other outbreaks. You can also catch my interview with Campus Safety Magazine here!

 

 

 

Safety Line – a Great School Safety Tool

School safety lines can help students and staff reduce the risks of school-traffic incidents in areas where students and cars both move in proximity on a regular basis.  As school traffic-related deaths are one of the leading causes of school related fatalities, stay back lines can be a high impact tool to reduce risk for K12 schools.

School safety lines can help students and staff reduce the risks of school-traffic incidents in areas where students and cars both move in proximity on a regular basis. As school traffic-related deaths are one of the leading causes of school related fatalities, stay back lines can be a high impact tool to reduce risk for K12 schools.

Safety Lines are an Excellent School Safety Strategy

In his groundbreaking report Relative Risk of Death for K12 Schools, Safe Havens International Adjunct Analyst Steve Satterly documents that far more school-related fatalities involve school-related traffic incidents than acts of violence. While all major categories of school safety incidents should be considered, a careful review of available data indicates that improvements in school traffic safety offer some of our greatest opportunities to reduce serious injury and death for school children and school employees.

What are School Safety Lines?

One simple concept that has been helping reduce the risk of traffic safety incidents at K12 schools is called a safety line or “stay back” line. The safety line can take the form of a painted line, icons forming a line, or other visual aid to help students and staff form positive safety habits to help reduce the chances that students will be hit by cars or school buses. Stay back lines clarify safe positioning for students and staff who supervise them.

School Safety Lines are not Just for Elementary Students

While most educators think in terms of pre-k and elementary students when it comes to pedestrian/motor vehicle safety incidents, cases of middle and high school students being seriously injured or killed also take place with regularity. Safety lines can help older students who can be easily distracted while they chat with friends in person or via the web just as they can help younger students who often fail to realize the dangers that motor vehicles can pose to their safety.

School Safety Lines can Significantly Reduce Risk

There are many other simple ways to reduce the risk of school-traffic safety incidents. Our analysts routinely see opportunities for the use of school safety lines along with these other simple, yet impactful ways to reduce the risk of school-traffic safety incidents.