By Emily Drooby
Teachers scattered into classrooms, barricade the doors, armed themselves with everyday items and hid — all as part of an active shooter drill designed to prepare them for the worst-case scenario.
Active shooter response training was conducted for some of Brooklyn’s diocesan schools. Staff gathered at either St. Francis de Sales in Queens, or at St. Joseph the Worker in Brooklyn, arranged by the Brooklyn Diocese and their school’s office.
The day started out with a presentation, where staff learned the three L’s of survival: lockdown, leave, live. As part of the program, educators learned how to use everyday classroom objects to make large, cumbersome barricades in the event of a shooter.
Next, staff was trained in an actual classroom, where they they took what they learned and implemented it during an active shooter drill.
“I have a chance, I have a chance to help out the children and protect themselves,” said Laura Pla, a teacher at Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy. “With this training and proper planning, I feel empowered to try my best and to do all that I can do to protect the children.”
Now, she knows how to set up her classroom so that the furniture can become a barricade. Others, like Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy’s principal, Stephanie-Ann Germann, have been through some of this training before.
“It really opened my eyes to some of the not necessarily hazards, but the things we need to plan for, in terms of the infrastructure in our building,” she said.
The drill was executed by two companies: Synergy and Ratio Risk Services.
Police Officer Brian Rojee, one of the instructors with Synergy, saw the effects of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting first hand. Now, he helps prepare people for active shooter situations.
“I think any way that we can mitigate the dangers that teachers and students face in school now-a-days makes the world a better place and that’s why I’m here,” he explained.
He taught preparations teachers called helpful, necessary but also sad.
According to Editorial Projects in Education, a non-profit that raises awareness and understanding of critical issues facing American schools, in 2019 there were 25 school shootings with injuries or deaths. 43 people were injured, and eight people were killed.
Active shooter drills help to mitigate the potential loss.
“Until you actually put these things into practice and plan and train, it’s really not worth much,” explained Doreen Rearden of Ratio Risk Services, who helped facilitate the program.