KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
July 12, 2014
Natalie Cook Clark
Emergency services and volunteers met today to practice active shooter drills.
Harris County Social Services and a number of other local emergency services, including KISD ran an active shooter drill this morning at the British International School of Houston. One of the objectives was to help emergency personal to be able to walk the school and know where medical personal and cameral systems were. This is a practice that many hope to be able to follow up with other schools in the area in order to assist all possible first responders to an unfortunate event.
Katy Magazine was one of the few press outlets invited to this closed event. Sgt. Brian Brawner with the Harris count sheriff's county district 4 explained the exercise. "We are being proactive, we never know what someone is going to do so we must be prepared for everything. If we make ourself a hard target then we are less likely to be victimized."
With that being said they have an extensive game plan to combat various situations and they need to keep those plans close to the chest and to review and put them into practice.
Today about 20-30 emergency personal participated in live action school drills including EMS and Memorial Herman Life Flight personal. Such tactics have involved a new way of thinking. Before the shooting at Columbine, officers were trained to wait for backup. Now anyone can be a first responser from a teacher to a cafeteria worker to a janitor. All officers are now trained to go knowing back up will come because in reality it could take valuable time before that backup can show.
"Thanks to the changing landscape that we must adapt to, officers are trained to charge in and isolate the threat. With this comes the need for order. If the inevitable happens then we missed be prepared and the priority is clearing the way for first responders, which could be anyone in the school at the time of the event," says Brawner.
Of course parents are going to want and deserve to be informed. In today's school makeup most parents are kept informed via social media and the school's official website. "During such an event parents will be asked to keep away from the school," stresses Brawner. "Only law enforcement will be allowed to go in. We have to keep the area clear for first responders and all student pick-up will be kept away from the school for the safety of everyone involved."
"We are aways evolving. We study every active shooter case and put it into our playbook in order to learn and adapt," Brawner says.
The British International School of Houston, a private school off of Westgreen has been very interested in working with first responders to make this informative exercise happen. "We were lucky to get through Harvey when so much of the area right by us was devestated but it was an eye opening experience for us. We are determined moving forward to work with all areas to ensure a successful access to our buildings facilities," said Candice Brawner, Director of Student Life and the British International School of Houston. "It basically comes down to that you never want to consider the possibilities but you need to be ready."
"Our goal is to put a plan in place to pre-plan with other area schools. We are just down the street from Morton Ranch and are talking to them about how we could help each other in a disaster scenario, "said Candice Brawner.
"We need to identify schools to work at, probably an elementary because their student reaction would be different," said Simon VanDyk, Harris County Emergency Services Public Information Officer. For example to help emergency situations all AED's are now accompanied with Stop the Bleed kits. "It's important for any personal in a school to be trained because you never know who a first responder will be," VanDyk adds.
Today is about possible first responders, emergency responders and preparing them. From K.I.S.D. security to Harris County Fire Department. When school starts the schools will address appropriate protical with the various age groups. If they know what they are suppose to do then instinct kicks in and they are prepared," says VanDyk. "Teachers will always be the first responders in any school disaster. With that they are trained accordingly in inservice work days."
"Before I was in administration I was a teacher and when you become a teacher you are the child's parent when they are are not there. It's a great sense of responsibility," said Brawner.
K.I.S.D. security was on site and ready to learn from the exercises. Now they will take that knowledge and apply it to our schools to help keep our students safe. Information from today's drills will be applied to the fire drills and intruder drills that are already put in practice each year in our schools. It is always important to evolve in the changing world.
In any given situation the priorty would be to stop the shooter first. Anything else comes secondary. All tactics in today's drills were closed to media and the emergency personal drilled for hours.
Teachers will be instructed in any knowledge gained from today. I left the media portion of the drills proud of my local emergency personal and all efforts that they are going through to keep our kids safe.