Friday, January 25, 2013

Oakland County school staff learns how to protect themselves, students in active shooter training

Oakland County school staff learns how to protect themselves, students in active shooter training WITH VIDEO

What do you do if an active shooter is at your school? That's the question many county and school officials are trying to answer in Waterford Township.

About 85 Oakland County school officials and teachers were in attendance Thursday for an active shooter training.

Theodore H. Quisenberry, manager of the Oakland County Homeland Security Division, said the day's training session is meant to “prevent it or protect people before it happens,” and allow individuals to learn “how they can walk out and survive it.”

The result is a collaboration among Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Sheriff Michael Bouchard and Oakland Schools Superintendent Dr. Vickie Markavitch.

“In the days following the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting, Homeland Security Division Manager Ted Quisenberry contacted Oakland Schools about collaborating on large-scale active shooter training sessions for school personnel,” according to a county media release.

“This is something we’ve been doing for several years as far as increasing awareness,” said Quisenberry. “There are several things that people can do if they’re in a situation, and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Topics covered at the training were active shooter profiles, past tragedies and decisions teachers — and others — might have to make in an active shooter situation.

Speaking to the large group at the county’s Executive Building, Mike Loeper — a Homeland Security representative and first trainer during the session — said the tragic Columbine shootings carried out by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold really painted a picture of active shooter situations.

Columbine “changed the way law enforcement responds” to active shooters, he said.

Audio recordings could be heard of a Colorado teacher calling law enforcement during the 1999 massacre.  
“That four-minute emergency call” was exactly the right thing to do, added the instructor.

A big factor in these scenarios is getting out of the way of law enforcement and letting them take the lead, officials said.

It’s a very situational training, said Quisenberry.

"If something were to happen what would I do, where would I go,” he said, detailing certain thoughts that should be going through peoples’ heads. Or, he said, “If my normal exit is over here and that’s the way that trouble is coming from, where could you go as a second — or a third — way to get out of there.”

Thursday’s training was the first of several training sessions. More were added due to high demand of them, said county spokesman Bill Mullan.

The next session is slated to begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 11, with another scheduled on Feb. 15 at the county's Oakland Schools building.

Dave Lessel, assistant principal of Waterford Mott High School, said he will be passing along what he learned to his staff.

“Pleased at our school and our district that we have a plan that’s set down ... so (teachers) are going to know what to do,” he said. “This is important information, it’s relevant. We’re entrusted with the safety of our kids, and we take this seriously.”