It was a very busy extended weekend for me in Bell Buckle. For the second year now, Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics and I traveled to my high school alma mater - The Webb School - to provide student responder training to student leadership and staff.
We got in town Thursday afternoon and did our initial walk through for the two classes we were to teach during the weekend. It gave us an opportunity to eat dinner on campus with the boarding students, which is always good for getting the vibe of kids. On Friday, I participated in a panel discussion in the school's daily chapel on the subject of campus security and being aware of the possible threats facing students and faculty. We finished our walk throughs that afternoon, and I had an opportunity to meet with the Head of School to discuss the school's ongoing efforts to become better prepared for a wide spectrum of emergencies.
After an awesome night under the lights of the football stadium where Webb thrashed its opponent, we got started bright and early with the student responder class. Twenty students and dorm staff (faculty who live on campus in the dorms) spent eight hours learning about tourniquets, pressure dressings, chest seals, drags and carries, with much time devoted to hands on training and role player scenarios. The students' and staff's interest in this subject matter could not have been stronger. I was very pleased how seriously they all took it. In fact, when the students learned the school would be buying a few first responder kits to be shared among the student leaders, their response was "Oh no....we each want our own gear." I'm taking that as a good sign.
On Sunday, we did a smaller class for school staff and friends introducing them to force on force (FOF) training and tactical medicine. The really great thing about this class was that we got to run full speed force on force scenarios inside of an actual school building. As a precaution, we visited with the local police and county sheriff's office days before our class to advise them we'd be running FOF drills on campus in the event someone mistook our exercises for the real thing. Our students were fantastic, and we all learned a lot about shooting on the move, using cover and concealment, legal issues surrounding the use of deadly force, and the basics of tactical medicine techniques.
In perusing my Facebook feed, I gather from my teacher friends that campus security continues to be a growing concern and point of emphasis. What seems to be a sticking point in the discussion is how best to address the issue.
I'm a huge proponent of training the student leaders on how to respond to emergencies. The kids at Webb outnumber the faculty around fifteen to one. And not all of the adults will be able to handle the drama of a full bore emergency, while many kids will be able to rise to the occasion. Some random observations, in no particular order:
- Kids like hands on training and scenarios. You lecture, you lose.
- This year's class had more adults in it than last year's. The adults really took a strong interest in this - even the ones who admitted they weren't excited about coming to the class.
- Kids want their own first aid gear. I was a bit surprised by this at first, but I suspect it goes to pride of ownership.
- Kids want to know what to do in an active shooter situation. And these student leaders wanted to know what they should be doing to help in that scenario.
- One way to market this idea at your kid's school is to sell it not only as first aid training, but leadership training as well.
- I'd love to see some parents get involved in this effort as well. Parents have a vested interest in this subject matter. They're the ones who get the call or the texts saying something bad has happened at their kid's school.
- It's important to remember that while this may be of significant interest to us as preparedness minded people, your kid's school administration may not see it that way. They have a lot of obligations to meet, and adding one more to that which isn't mission critical (in their mind) may not result in the response you want. To Webb's credit, they have been quite receptive to the idea of doing pioneering work in the concept of training students to be crisis responders. I suspect that's in large part due to the fact I'm willing to financially support the effort (hence the bullet point directly above.)