In real-life, drills and practice can help mentally prepare people in stressful situations to react quicker at the prospect of danger and harm. Spearfish School District in Spearfish, S.D., did just that Oct. 10 with an active shooter tabletop exercise.
“(The training) served the purpose for what we were looking to do, and that was to familiarize the teachers of what gunfire in the school sounds like,” said Kirk Easton, superintendent of the Spearfish School District.
Staff gathered with police prior to the drill to discuss procedures and notification times that would be necessary in the event of a shooting.
Shots rang out through the school in different locations, sharp reports to train the ear to recognize them. Police officers fired shots from a pistol loaded with blanks so staff members could hear what shots sound like from different distances as well. A panic-button system has been installed that interrupts over the P.A. system to announce an automated message: “Attention everyone, an emergency has been reported, …”
Unfortunately, as staff discovered, the announcement is not loud enough, and adjustments will have to be made, especially when children are in the room. Easton stated that after the drill, his intention is to conduct a practice that may involve parents, after changes and suggestions have been made to the current system.