It’s a situation that no educator, student, parent or officer ever wants to face: an armed intruder inside a school. In an effort prepare for the worst, local education and law enforcement officials will hold a two-day training course to prepare for that unfortunate scenario.
On March 28 and 29, teachers and officers from across Northwest Montana will gather at Flathead High School in Kalispell for a special class put on by Safariland Group. The training will take place while students are out of school on spring break.
The Kalispell Police Department is helping organize the training.
Kalispell Superintendent Mark Flatau said the training is something he hopes local teachers never have to use but that it will be an invaluable learning experience.
“We can never be over prepared. We never know what to expect next week, next month or next year,” he said. “This is all about being prepared and having a plan.”
According to Every Town for Gun Safety, there have been 171 gun-related incidents at schools across the United States since 2013. Those statistics include incidents where multiple people were fatally shot or where weapons were unintentionally discharged on school property.
In January, a 16-year-old Flathead High student was arrested after school administrators found a loaded revolver in his backpack. The student has since been expelled and charged with six misdemeanors. School officials said they did not believe the student planned on harming anyone with the weapon.
On the first day of the training, about 70 participants will learn techniques on how to respond to an active shooter. The training includes a live simulation of a shooting. On the second day, those 70 participants will share what they learned the previous day with other school officials. Flatau said one of the benefits of the training is that once someone has gone through the course they are certified to teach others. Teachers from nearly every community in the Flathead Valley will attend.
Cory Clark, the resource officer for Flathead High School, said that in the past students and teachers were told to hide in case of a shooting. But current practices call for a three-pronged response: run, lock or fight. Clark said someone’s first reaction should always be to run if they believe they can get away from a shooter safely. If they cannot run, people should then lock and barricade themselves in a room and do everything they can to prevent the intruder from coming in. And lastly, if there are no other options, people should try and fight the intruder. Clark said participants would learn methods of how to subdue a possible shooter.
“If someone gets into the room, we’re teaching people to fight and not be a victim,” Clark said.
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