SWAT training prepares Hamshire-Fannett teachers for shooting events
Sara Flores | January 4, 2017
Photo: Ryan Pelham
IMAGE 1 OF 30 Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies prepare to fire blank rounds in a hallway at Hamshire-Fannett Intermediate School during an active shooter training class for staff on Tuesday. The deputies fired weapons … more
Hamshire-Fannett ISD educators jumped at the sound of rapid gunfire as they watched footage of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre on a 10-foot screen.
As the last seconds of the video played, the group of around 250 sat motionless, their faces frozen in expressions of horror.
“I got emotional,” Hamshire-Fannett Assistant Superintendent John Burris said. “It’s difficult to see someone get shot. It’s not something you see every day.”
After showing the video, James Riley, a SWAT officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, taught the district’s employees three steps to follow in the event of a similar shooting event on campus: run, hide and fight.
“Your first move should be to visualize an escape, but if that’s not a possibility, seeking cover is the next best option,” said Riley.
Riley said he recommends elementary school teachers gather students into a hiding spot, since controlling a group of 6-year-olds is more difficult than it would be with a group of high school students.
When hiding, he said teachers should lock doors, turn off lights, silence cell phones and barricade classroom doors with large pieces of furniture.
“If you can’t run or hide, defending yourself should be your last resort,” Riley said.
If an attacker were to make it past the barricades, the best places to attack are the throat and eyes, he said.
The average arrival time for an officer responding to an active shooting is 3 minutes, Riley said. Once law enforcement officials make their way onto the campus, Riley said listening to their orders is crucial.
“Keep your hands up, and if you happen to come in contact with the shooter’s gun, don’t have it near you,” Riley said. An officer’s job is to find the gunman, and if the wrong person has the weapon it can lead to confusion.
“Our most important goal is that you get home safely at the end of the day,” Riley said.
Valerie Gill, a special education teacher at the intermediate school, was one of the teachers to take part in the voluntary training session on Tuesday.
“It made me more aware of the way I could change my daily routines at school, in the event that something were to happen – and to react quicker,” Gill said.
She said watching the footage from Columbine, a mass shooting by two Colorado high school students who killed 12 of their peers and a teacher, reminded her of the reality of mass shootings.
As employees sat inside the cafeteria, deputies fired blank rounds from an M4 .233 semiautomatic rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun and a handgun – first outside of the school, and then at the end of the hallway.
Deputies wanted the educators to know what each gun type sounded like and from different ranges.
Some teachers covered their faces with sweaters as the guns were fired.
Burris said each campus goes through an active shooter training seminar at the beginning of each school year. He said this is the first time in his 14 years with the district that the training was facilitated by the Jefferson