Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Features News

Training School Staff To Be Armed First Responders

Training School Staff To Be Armed First Responders

Photo credit: Complete Colorado

If an armed, crazed madman comes to your child’s school with the intent of harming or killing children, who will protect them?

Someone in the school will call 911 when they determine it’s safe to do so, and law enforcement will get there as quickly as they can. But what if that response time is 30 minutes, as it very well could be in some rural areas? What if it’s just two minutes? In active killer mass-shooting events, many people can be killed in that time.

That is not good enough for our kids. Even with a two-minute response time, that’s not nearly good enough.

The fact is, the faster someone is there with the ability to stop the killing, the faster the killing stops. The faster lifesaving first-aid can begin, the more lives are saved.

In mid-June, 17 school staff members in Colorado, who are authorized to be armed on their campus, attended FASTER training in Weld County, Colo. FASTER stands for Faculty Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response, and was the brainchild of Buckeye Firearms Foundation in Ohio. They have been providing this type of training and protection to schoolchildren in Ohio for more than five years. I attended a FASTER class last year, and I came back a changed person, determined to bring this life-saving training to Colorado.

A Colorado school staffer receives individual instruction during FASTER training earlier this year. Photo by Complete Colorado

Back in 2003, the Colorado legislature got it right. They allowed schools, with the authorization of their school board, to allow selected staff to carry on campus to protect our children. We brought FASTER training from Ohio to Colorado because these school staff members, who volunteer to be armed first responders in their schools, deserve world-class training that is specific to the school environment.

Since many of the school districts that want to send staff members to FASTER don’t have the budget for this kind of training, we raised private money through Coloradans for Civil Liberties, in partnership with Independence Institute, so that no school would have to forego this life-saving training. Tuition per student is just $1,000 for this three-day class.

Who are these 17 school staff members who signed up? They are from rural and suburban schools. They range from 24 years old to nearly retirement age. Most have been around firearms their whole life. All are dedicated volunteers, determined to protect and defend children should the worst happen. These are people who would use the only thing they have—their bodies—to protect students from a killer. Now with their FASTER training, they have the skills they need to stop the killing, and have a fighting chance to survive and save the lives of those children and fellow school employees—with more than just their bodies.

We already have a wait list for the second class of volunteer heroes-in-waiting who want to make sure they are as well trained as possible to protect and defend our children in school.The intensive three-day course covers “Stop the Bleed” and gunshot wound casualty care to keep people alive until medical help is cleared to enter the school, the mindset necessary to act, de-escalation skills and advanced firearms techniques to stop the killer. All participants must pass a test that exceeds the Colorado POST qualification for handgun proficiency.

There are some anti-gun activists who are opposed to this training. They say that we are “arming teachers,” as if we are handing out firearms and forcing school staff to carry. That is not at all accurate.

First, schools and districts in Colorado are not compelled to make a decision to arm staff. That is the choice of each school district. Second, in schools and districts that make this choice, they seek volunteers. If particular school staff members want nothing to do with carrying a firearm on campus, there is no requirement that they do so.

So now what? What comes next after training this first group of teachers and administrators? The next FASTER class, of course!

That’s right. We already have a wait list for the second class of volunteer heroes-in-waiting who want to make sure they are as well trained as possible to protect and defend our children in school. Unfortunately, the wait list far exceeds the money raised thus far. The reality is, if we fail to raise more money, this life-saving training ends today. As a non-profit, we rely on the generosity of our fellow patriots to help us deliver our next class.

We were all students once—many of us since the days when stopping an active killer wasn’t a concern. We know that NRA members and other gun owners will agree that FASTER should be made available to all school staff who need this training. Now we can protect the lives of school children simply by sponsoring a school staff member for $1,000, or by sponsoring a school for $3,000-$5,000, or whatever we can spare. Anyone can help—individuals, owners of ranges or gun stores, church groups, fraternal organizations and others who recognize the need to protect children at school.

School staff in Colorado who want to apply for training can fill out a registration form at www.FasterColorado.com.

Laura Carno is a political media strategist and founder of I Am Created Equal. She also blogs at LauraCarno.com, and was actively involved in the 2013 Colorado recalls.