When we created ShotStop®, it was our mission to provide law enforcement and military members with state-of-the-art ballistic protection. This is why It breaks our heart every time we hear of an active shooter where an officer in blue is shot and killed trying to protect their fellow Americans. As society starts to come out of this Covid hibernation and things get close to normal, there will undoubtedly be more violence. This blog is going to help you understand how to protect schools better than before.
Before we get into the details and recommendations, I think it’s best to explain why I’m qualified to speak on this topic. As a former military police officer, I’ve been through countless hours of active shooter training and school safety courses run by state and federal law enforcement organizations.
After I got out of the military, I became a high school history teacher and learned invaluable information on what our public school systems look like. I’ve been through weeks of training as a teacher to deal with the student’s safety and protocols. However, it’s important to understand that all opinions and facts expressed in this blog are based on state and federal guidelines.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The DHS is the government organization responsible for protecting American citizens and was created in response to 9/11. Understanding DHS can be confusing and oftentimes frustrating to comprehend its mission.
For the purposes of this article, the DHS is an overarching organization that was created (in part) to ensure the information on national security was openly shared with other organizations. With the ability to work on any issue they want, the DHS has taken active shooters and school safety very seriously.
DHS ACTIVE SHOOTER: HOW TO RESPOND
The DHS created the Active Shooter: How to Respond manual to have an official guideline on how to respond to an active shooter in schools. This guideline is based mostly on the overwhelming consensus for an active shooter response, called ALERRT. We will discuss ALERRT in future blogs if you’re curious about the program. For now, we’re staying focused on the DHS manual.
Evacuate- If you see a clear path out of the school and into a safe area, don’t hesitate to move. Before you make this conscious choice to run to safety, make sure you have a clear path in your head.
If you see someone walking or running toward the shooter, let them know to go the other way. The most important takeaway from evacuation is to be decisive, help others if possible, and don’t let someone who is scared to leave stop you from going.
Hideout- What if you can’t escape without being seen by the shooter? If you don’t see a clear path, the worst thing you can do is to start running around in the open for all to see. If you can’t get away, find a spot to hide in and turn off your cell phone.
Try to get to a place where you can’t be seen by the shooter. If possible, find a spot with proper cover, such as behind a large door, office desk, or a wall. Make sure that all technology is turned off to limit the noise that will attract a shooter. If you’re in a classroom or bathroom with a lock, always lock the door and stay away from windows.
One major issue with a hiding place is victims will trap themselves in a spot with anything they can find to cover them. In the heat of the moment, this sounds logical, but it’s highly detrimental to survival if you block an escape path. If you can, block the door with anything (cabinets, desks, chairs, etc.) and stay low to the ground if possible.
Take Action Against The Active Shooter- This is the worst possible case when we have to ask our students to defend their lives against a person with a gun. Unfortunately, this must be done as a last resort to save your life.
The DHS recommends that if you feel you’re going to die, bring the fight to the shooter. Throw items, such as pencil sharpeners, books, bags, pens, pencils, and anything else you can throw to distract the shooter.
If you must confront the shooter, do so decisively and violently. Go for the eyes, throat, and groin before you try to wrestle a gun away. As troubling as it is to write about this topic, it’s an integral part of our society that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
HOW SHOULD SCHOOL PERSONNEL RESPOND AS POLICE ARRIVE?
Law Enforcement training dictates that the first officer on the scene must stop the killing before providing first aid to any victim. This means that the police are not going to help until the scene is safe. There have been incredible debates on this issue from ALERRT, the F.B.I., and the DHS. Protocols will most likely change in the future, but for now, police will go straight for the shooter.
As officers enter the school, they will be yelling commands, like “get down!”, “Keep moving!”, and “put your hands up!” No matter what, follow their commands immediately to show them you’re not the shooter or an accomplice.
Police may shoot canisters of pepper spray into the school to limit the field of view of the shooter and to get everyone down. Don’t stop to ask officers for help or care because they are highly trained to eliminate the threat before anything else. Try not to run towards the officers because it could confuse them on your intentions, especially when bullets are flying around them.
If you’re able to escape and get to a safe location, give the police everything you remember about the shooter, such as clothing, gun, number of shooters, number of victims, and the shooter's location.
How Do We Protect Our Schools?
If the majority of the school population follows the guidelines laid out by the DHS, their survival rate will increase dramatically. Unfortunately, there is no concrete way to ensure that every student and staff member walks away from an active shooter. However, we can make sure that shooters can’t shoot through walls, bookshelves, doors, office windows, and almost anything else that could be used as cover.
HOW CAN SHOTSTOP® MAKE SCHOOLS SAFER?
ShotStop® not only makes the best ballistic armor for police and our military, but we produce the most versatile ballistic protection for use in public buildings, as well. It’s called BallisticBoard® and it’s made from the same patented Duritium® technology as our award-winning armor.
BallisticBoard® shares the same characteristics as our body armor. Both products provide the user with the lightest, thinnest, and most durable ballistic protection on the market. Our products go right in line with the DHS recommendations of hiding behind doors, walls, and office desks.
If our students and educators are being taught to find cover if they can’t escape, they should be given equipment that can keep them safe. BallisticBoard® is the best answer to solve all concerns or issues in educational institutions.
We can provide any school with doors and walls that are capable of stopping an armor-piercing round from a few feet away. We can outfit schools with ballistic protection in every drywall to provide protection against bullets punching through and hitting the people inside.
We can provide a safe space for all teachers with BallisticBoard® built into their classroom desks. Essentially, we’re offering schools the ability to provide the safest atmosphere possible for learning. We take this topic as seriously as we can and look forward to collaborating with schools across the country.
ISN’T BALLISTIC DOORS AND DESKS TOO HEAVY?
Many people have been misled or misinformed about the capabilities of ballistic protection. We understand that all equipment used to be extraordinarily heavy and thick. However, our Duritium® technology changed the game with a BallisticBoard® that weighs only 2 lbs. Per square foot. To make it even more undeniable, we can make the BallisticBoard® as thin as ⅛” and up to ½” thick.
HOW CAN SHOTSTOP® HELP INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS?
There are a lot of companies that have started selling “bullet-proof” backpacks that are designed to stop handgun bullets from close range. The issue we noticed was that the overall weight was way more than we’d want our kids to wear. To solve this problem we created our lightweight, low-profile backpack inserts.
We have 4 different models to choose from based on the level of protection, price, and overall weight. The most affordable and lightest insert we have is the BallisticBoard® Level IIIA Soft Insert. It comes in at only 1.1 lbs and can easily be placed in any backpack without adding too much weight. Our heaviest backpack insert is rated to a Level III, which will stop rifle caliber bullets from penetrating. It’s still only 3.75 lbs. For the standard size and has the highest probability of stopping a ballistic threat.
WHY CHOOSE SHOTSTOP®?
ShotStop® understands the pressure and worry that school administrators deal with in order to provide a safe environment for our future generations. Figuring out ways to make your schools safer must be a never-ending fight. There is no full-proof way to keep our kids safe while they’re away learning. There are so many decisions that are tough as an administrator and law-maker, but this isn’t one of them.
ShotStop® can and will help every school system in the country if given the opportunity. We offer ballistic protection that is lightweight and durable enough to take multiple hits without penetration. If you need any help or have any questions, the best way to contact us is through the email, firstname.lastname@example.org.