Protect Yourself so You can Protect Others – A Critical School Safety Concept

Anyone who has flown commercial air in the last decade or so has heard the safety message that they should put their own mask on before putting the oxygen mask on others such as small children in the event of a loss of cabin pressure. Though many people do not realize just how fast they can lose consciousness, they do understand that it is logical because they cannot properly protect children if they become unconscious while trying to help a child put their mask on first. There is an important school emergency preparedness point in this example from commercial aviation. School employees should be taught to take care of their own safety first so they can in turn be capable of protecting students and other staff. As at least two school employees have already died heroically but needlessly in school shooting situations because they did not apply this concept, it bears mention.

Law enforcement officers, fire service professionals and other public safety personnel are trained on this point heavily. Many deaths in these fields have provided practitioners in those fields with object lessons that should not be forgotten. An acquaintance of mine died in just this manner when he hit a utility pole while rushing to the aid of a fellow officer. His fatal crash not only took his life, but it also diverted valuable assistance to the officer in distress because additional units had to rush to his aid when he crashed.

Just as public safety officials must be trained to overcome the natural tendency of caring people to sometimes put the safety of others first inappropriately, educational employees should be trained to consider what help they will be able to provide if they become incapacitated because they do not take adequate steps to protect themselves before they act to protect others.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.