Whitmer HS teacher of active shooter training: “It was so real - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Whitmer HS teacher of active shooter training: “It was so realistic"

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

The Washington Local School District is preparing teachers to protect students in the event of a shooting.

Students had the day off of school on Friday so all 900 staff members could go through ALICE training at Whitmer High School.

This was a chilling simulation.  It was a drill.  Students stayed home for the day as teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers went through several scary scenarios.

Law enforcement officers, including a Lucas County Sheriff's deputy who has a daughter in 6th grade at Washington Local Schools, pretend to be gunmen as they fire blanks.  Blanks are cartridges that contain gun powder but no bullets.

 "This is Mr. Burnhardt," says one school staff member on a walkie-talker, simulating the P.A. system in one wing of the high school. "We are on a lock down. Active shooter in the science room."

In the first simulation, the deputy dressed in casual clothes invades classrooms filled with teachers.    

"It was so realistic, especially the first scenario when we were just waiting crouched down," says Joni King, a special education teacher at Whitmer High School. "We could hear him walking from room to room shooting. And there was nothing we could do. We were sitting ducks. If fact, we had some people in our room actually crying."

"We're all trained to do lock down," says Cherie Mourlam, the Assistant Superintendent of Washington Local Schools.

Mourlam says this ALICE training is meant to change that in order to help teachers save students.

"You don't have to just stay put," says Mourlam.  "You can get out of there."

That's exactly what these teachers did in the second scheme.

"It felt so much better," says King.  "The second scenario when we ran out … the feeling that we could get out of here, get away from the situation because we were lucky and they weren't near us."

"They are learning there are options of escaping, countering, going after the attackers sometimes. Whatever it takes to survive the attack," says Randy Sehl, the Director of Security and Safety for Washington Local Schools.

The final drill is meant to show that if you can't escape – if the shooter is in your hallway – barricade the door.

"That third scenario where we actively took him out. We screamed, we yelled, we had the door barricaded, he did not get in," says King. "When he opened the door and tried to get in, we were bombing him and that was a feeling like you can't believe, because we felt we had the power. We took the power and control from him."

King hopes a shooter never targets her school, but says, "I feel much more confident that if it did that I feel like I could handle things a lot better," says King.

Several police departments participated in the ALICE training at Whitmer High School on Friday, including Toledo, Oregon, and Sylvania.

Now that the Washington Local staff of nearly 900 people is trained, the plan is to pass the processes along to the district's 7,000 students.  It takes a few years to fully implement.

 

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