Fear is a sales tactic that you should never buy into.
Full Disclosure: I am a consultant that sells both services and a product. I started as an eighth-grade science teacher for the fifth largest school district in Ohio and thirty years later I retired as the Safety Director. I still hold a commission in Ohio as a Police Officer. My primary duties are Community Outreach and Training Officer. (I no longer work patrol because they do not make uniforms in my age.) Because of my duties in both education and law enforcement, I attended training at the local, state, and national level. The best training I received was NEVER a ‘one size fits all’ training. Trainers and consultants gave us a bag of tools and we were instructed to use the tools that fit our organization and our needs. For those who try to sell us their ‘solution’ I was able to take their ideas that made good sense and tossed the others to the side.
I have talked about this in the past.
I will talk about it now.
Sadly, I will need to talk about this again.
Fear should never be a sales tactic when promoting a product or services to schools.
I saw a recent post where a vendor was touting the virtues of Run, Hide, Fight, especially when using the product he was selling, and criticizing schools for not adopting Run, Hide, Fight. The post was highly critical of any school using lockdowns as an option for an Active Threat Event. According to the author, not only does the federal government promote Run, Hide, Fight, but we have no problem evacuating during a fire when we do not know where the threat is located. He stated he would rather see someone shot in the leg trying to escape rather than die huddled in a classroom.
Run, Hide, Fight, was NEVER a plan designed for schools. It is not based on science or research. I used Run, Hide, Fight when working with businesses and churches. The evolution of Run, Hide, Fight is Avoid, Deny, Defend, from ALERT out of the Texas State University. This strategy is based on research. Lockdown is NOT a plan. It is a response. ONE response. Not the only response. According to the Texas School Safety Center, you increase your chances of survival during an Active Threat Event (ATE) by 70% simply by being behind a locked door. With that knowledge I still would not recommend lockdown as the ONLY option. Contrary to the post, educators who chose the lockdown option DO NOT have their students huddled in a corner. And at least in the State of Ohio, getting out quickly is no longer the goal of a fire drill. After Parkland, protocols were developed to get students and staff out of the building safely. Educators gather as much information as possible before evacuating the building.
There are some schools that still use lockdown as a plan. Part of the reason is because consultants with questionable skills, training, and background are giving out advice (often in conjunction with a product they are selling), that does not reflect the realities of today’s Active Threat Event, child development, teacher mindset, the training opportunities and training budgets of a school, or the legal standard of in loco parentis.
Presenting at conferences across the country and meeting people who should be considered my ‘competitors,’ I see firsthand there are many consultants working in the field of School Safety who are getting it right. They are the ones who always start by reminding us schools are safe. That we are more likely to lose a staff member or student due to a car crash or suicide than an ATE. They are the ones who remind us that just because something bad could happen at our school DOES NOT mean something bad will happen at our schools. (Yes, I have met too many ‘school safety experts’ who tell their schools, “It is not a matter of IF you will have a school shooting, but WHEN you will have a school shooting!”) Doing it right means training staff in multiple options, empowering the staff to make decisions, and developing exercises that test their plans and training without inducing trauma to the staff or students. All options are given equal importance, not a hierarchy that must be followed. We trust our staff 185 days of the year to make good decisions under normal circumstances. If we have trained our staff, conducted exercises to test our plans and our training, taken corrective actions when needed based on our After-Action Review, why would we not trust them to make good decisions under the worst circumstances?
Training, hardware, and software all play a role in keeping our students and staff safe. All products and services you buy should meet the needs of your organization, not because of a scare tactic from a consultant or a vendor.