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                        The Reality of Lockdown - If You Insist on Using Lockdown Only....Please At Least Do It Properly!

                        LOCKDOWN! – Let’s Really Think This Through

                        This is going to be a fairly lengthy article. Why? Because my intent is to change the way schools think about lockdown and their procedures for keeping children safe. There is a lot of information to present in this article.

                        I’m going to have to be really careful as I write this article! Why? Because I am passionately against the way we are doing things in our schools to keep our kids safe during and incident of violence. Unfortunately, I am continuously seeing our schools using a procedure that, when taught as the only option, is absolutely dangerous! The following will not only explain why I feel this way about a lockdown only response to an Active Shooter or violent encounter.

                        So, for the moment, lets assume that regardless of what I think, lockdown alone is the way your school is going to continue to do things. First, lets consider why this would be the case? My guess is I would get one or more of the following answers:

                        1) “it’s the way we’ve always done it”

                        2) “it’s a national and widely accepted practice”

                        3) “local law enforcement recommends it”

                        4) “it’s all we know”

                        5) Maybe it’s what the Dept of Education or your local school board mandates

                        The bottom line is this:

                        For whatever the reason is that you use lockdown only, if thats what your school has chosen to do, its critical that you, at minimum, do it properly. I promise that if you are inside of a room or office attempting to elude a "bad guy", you have the advantage if you are doing it properly!

                        Let’s consider current lockdown protocol as it exists in almost every school I’ve ever been in or talked with (although there are a few exceptions). Its safe to assume that schools with lockdown procedures conduct lockdown drills, at minimum, periodically. The problem is that in every case that I am aware of and that I have monitored, these drills are conducted when class is in-session. So first, think about what a mass killer is looking for – the “most bang for the buck in the shortest amount of time”. This means that there is a high degree of probability that an incident will take place “when class IS NOT in session”. This being the case, however, few schools ever drill during lunch, class changeover, etc. Think about this:

                        Do teachers understand their responsibilities if school goes into lockdown at times other than when class is in session? If there are many people in the hallways scrambling to find cover, at what point do teachers lock their doors? Do they wait until the hallways are completely clear of students, which may be too long and endanger other students? Do they leave students in the hallway and save those who are already inside of the classroom? These questions must be asked and all teachers must know exactly what is expected of them. And this must be drilled for!

                        Next, drills always go fairly smoothly! Why? Because everyone participating in the drill knows that there is no real danger. If we add real gunshots and real danger, guess what? Many will lock down as trained, however, many will also evacuate regardless of policy and training. First, evacuation should only be an option provided for by school policy. Next consider this:

                        Should anyone elect to evacuate, do they know where they are to go so that they can be accounted for? Do you, as an Administrator, even know the answer to this question?

                        Why are we asking people to lock themselves into a building where there is someone actively trying to take their lives? Why are we asking them to “hide and hope”? Why are we asking them to entomb themselves?

                        The Bottom Line:

                        Everyone should be empowered to do whatever they choose to do based on their particular circumstances. This, obviously, does not apply to children who are too young to make such decisions. In these cases, it should be their caregiver who should be provided with this choice. Ultimately, there should be plans in place that are well-known to everyone based on the choice that they elect to make.

                        Why Do We Do Lockdown Then?

                        This is a great question!

                        The Answer:

                        Know one really knows!

                        There isn’t a single organization, person, or authority that has ever officially endorsed lockdown and said that this is the best solution to the active shooter problem. There are really only those who have accepted it as a solution. Most however, cannot really explain why it is the accepted solution. Studies show that lockdown came from the Los Angeles School District in response to gang-related drive-by shootings. Many LASD schools were contained within fenced perimeters. Schools in the west are motel-style so there are really no internal hallways. So unless a bad guy is inside of a classroom, they are outside outside of the building. So the threats that led to lockdown procedure were outside of a secured perimeter. In this type of incident lockdown makes perfect sense. If someone was outside of your home shooting into it, and you had no idea from which direction the shots were coming, you certainly would not go running outside.

                        So it was really adopted as policy for reasons completely unknown and, in most cases, senseless reasons.

                        I have had many school officials tell us that they lockdown because local and state law enforcement officials recommend it. Why is this? Because it is assumed that law enforcement official equals knowledge to teach safety in specialized areas such as these. This is far from accurate. There are so many things that we accept as being highly advantageous to safety that just aren’t. They are accepted and endorsed because they appear, on the surface, to offer a solution to a threat or “something is better than nothing”. And I will be the first to admit that this is true. But when you really think it through, with a high level of understanding of what really happens during a sudden incident of violence, they suddenly do not make nearly as much sense.

                        This might surprise you:

                        Regardless of lockdown procedures, most Cops tells their kids to “get out as quickly as possible” if there is a shooter inside their schools. This is completely against what the school is teaching. What this shows are further support that lockdown alone is wrong and dangerous when taught as the only option.

                        So What Are the Concerns?

                        1) They rely on local law enforcement who, except in very unusual circumstances, don’t have the expertise to teach people safety prior to their arrival. Most Law Enforcement Officers are experts in responding.

                        2) They think that teaching kids to do something proactive, only if necessary, would put them in danger. Please understand this:

                        If there is someone inside the school with a gun, they are already in danger!!! You either teach them something or you teach them nothing!

                        3) They don’t want to venture from the accepted norm. “It is what we and everyone else does”.

                        What Parents Say?

                        We teach our courses primarily at businesses, hospitals, private schools, nursing and long-term care facilities, insurance companies, etc. In these courses we get parents who have children in school. They hear our training and many regularly approach us afterwards and say “will you teach this course at my son/daughters school?” and they tell us that they are going to give our information to their kid’s school. I tell them – “good luck with it” and explain the reluctance of schools to embrace our training for the reasons stated above. The parents are all adamant that this be taught at their children’s schools. These parents have no more, or less, sense for safety than school officials yet they know what makes sense when they hear it. And I am telling you its overwhelming!

                        And get this, many have been to multiple active shooter, workplace violence and like courses and they tell us that our training is “by far the best they’ve ever experienced”! Not “taken” but “experienced”. That is the difference between Blue-U Defense and other programs. We recently had a school administrator, who had staff members that had recently attended one of our training courses ask, “what’s the difference between your training and ALICE Train I ng taught by our local PD?” In response I asked this official what the response of the attendees of our program were. Her reply….”they can’t stop talking about it”. My response….”that’s the difference between our training and ALICE Training taught by your local PD. Our training, to be clear, is really supplemental to ALICE Training. It goes far beyond other training courses.

                        We believe strongly in what we teach and what we tell our clients. And our clients do as well.

                        Schools Take Note:

                        Parents are going to tell their kids to evacuate in certain circumstances regardless of what you teach them. There is tremendous support for doing this! It is strongly suggested that you have a plan for this! Where should students and faculty who choose to evacuate go so that you can account for them!

                        Applications - Technology Assistance

                        There are several new products out designed to offer schools fast, effective “solutions” to violent encounters. These solutions are very generally accepted as being great products that will solve numerous problems. What are they designed to do?

                        There are many different companies that attempt to solve the problem in various ways, some incidentally, more effectively than others.

                        First, they are designed to send a call for assistance that is transmitted directly to the closest police patrol units. What is great about this is that is does go direct rather than going through 911 thereby saving the time its takes a call for assistance to get through that process. This can take as long as 3-4 minutes believe it, or not. This, in my opinion, is a really powerful tool.

                        Unfortunately, most everything after this particular feature is not so great, in my opinion. Why? Because we need to think practically. So here are some additional features offered within these products:

                        1) A teacher uses a computer (desktop, laptop, cellphone, tablet) to send this call for assistance.

                        When I first heard of this particular feature it was my belief that every teacher would activate this call for assistance via a cell phone or tablet that they would have in their possession at all times. I later found out that, at least at the schools that I’ve talked with, they do not utilize cell phones or tablets and therefore this alert must happen from a desktop computer. So I was highly concerned even when I incorrectly assumed that the alert could be sent regardless of where a teacher might be when the incident took place. I realize that there are schools in which teachers do have cell phones. From my understanding the when an incident arises the teacher sends a help alert that goes direct to the closest patrol units. This alert, if sent from a desktop, requires the teacher to “go to the desktop”. If they have a cell phone apparently it can be sent from that.

                        This is excellent right? Maybe! The question is:

                        What if the teacher is not at their desktop? Now they have to get there. And in so doing, are they leaving their children? You see, we almost always assume that an active shooter incident will take place while class is in session. There is an even greater chance that it will happen when its not! So, in an instance when it happens when teachers and students are outside their classrooms, where is this signal sent from?

                        And what should our teachers be focused on in such an incident? Getting to their desktop and sending a signal or assisting their students with developing a safety plan or getting to safety?

                        2) Once the signal is sent

                        The teacher then has the ability to communicate to, or with, the responding patrol units by way of entering information into their communication vessel, either a cell phone, tablet, or desktop. This information then populates on the computer screens of responding units and possibly other dispatch centers who then feed the information to responding units and command.

                        Again, this is excellent, right? Wrong! The question is:

                        Practically speaking, what would ever make anyone think that someone with a heartrate of 180+ beats per minutes, in a state of fear and panic, etc. could ever input information into a cell phone or other device? On my most calm day I can’t accurately input information into one of these devices. It may be easier to do on a desktop but again, that requires the teacher to be sitting at their desks.

                        So again I ask the question:

                        What should our teachers be focused on during an incident like this? Inputting information into a communication vessel or taking care of our kids!

                        There are additional issues as well however I believe that I have illustrated the point about practical vs perceived effectiveness. We just don’t think things through and this is why some of the highest ranking officials can look at products like these and think they are great! They are excellent in their signal sending capabilities. In my opinion, to drill expecting teachers to go any further than sending an alert can be dangerous unless there is someone responsible for guiding our kids while someone is inputting information into a device. Its just simply unlikely to happen!

                        Training Programs

                        Run, Hide and Fight?

                        This is also excellent stuff right? Awesome! Great! Good stuff!

                        Its also extremely general. We ALL already know these things. Think about it. Without any training, if something were to happen, would we not automatically do one of these three things based on our built-in defense mechanisms?

                        The key is that there are specific ways to run, specific places to run, specific places to hide, specific ways to hide, and specific ways to fight! This is the stuff that “fine-tunes” our built in defense mechanisms and significantly raises our levels of performance.

                        Throw Things at Your Attacker?

                        Again this is excellent! Great! Awesome! But to what end? Are we to think that we should continuously throw things at our attacker until they give up and surrender? NO! There must be follow-up to this particular plan. And the follow-up must be well thought, highly effective and extremely practical or it will not work!

                        Training MUST Have an Impact on Trainees!

                        We recently held an open training course in which a few people from a local school district attended. Following this training, we were contacted by a school district safety official with a request to meet with them and the local Chief of Police regarding our training and the possibility of bringing it into their district. The conversation went like this

                        School Official:

                        “How does your training compare to ALICE, ALERTT, CRASE, etc.?”

                        Me:

                        “well, can I ask you how those who attended our course from your school felt about it?”

                        School Official:

                        “They can’t stop talking about it!”

                        Me:

                        “That’s the difference between Blue-U Defense and other programs! Our passion and our presentation, is powerful, creative, practical, empowering and effective. There is a huge difference.”

                        The bottom line is this:

                        An uninspired presentation that lacks real knowledge, impact, passion, practical, and effective material is basically worthless!

                        Presentations must create empowerment through quality material, and practical, real, and effective tools and techniques.

                        So What Do We Do You About This?

                        First, Understand This:

                        If you are inside of a classroom or office and the bad guy is outside, YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE!

                        I promise you that this is true! But only if you have the appropriate skills and knowledge! If you are properly prepared, the chance of YOU ending this fight is quite high. Again, this is a last resort option behind escape!

                        How to Lock-Down Properly

                        So the bottom line is if you are going to go with the accepted standard of lockdown only, at least learn to do it properly. Training in proper lockdown tactics alone will increase its effectiveness tenfold!

                        But again, there is far more to surviving an incident of violence that learning proper tactics! FAR MORE!

                        We Need Real Solutions

                        Blue-U Defense training is the most impactful, empowering, practical, effective, engaging, and sensible solution to surviving an incident of violence. Find out why our courses are being called “the best courses IN ANY SUBJECT”! To learn more about why you need our training whether school, business, hospital, university, or personal please contact me at tchoatejr@blue-u.com

                        Published Feb 14, 2016


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