NPR Story
2:42 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Does Lockdown Training Save Lives?

New details are emerging today about the school shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, earlier this week.

Officials have identified the shooter as freshman student Jared Michael Padgett, and say he was armed with an AR-15 rifle and carrying nine loaded magazines, which could have shot off several hundred rounds. The gun and ammunition belonged to the boy’s family. Padget killed fellow freshman Emilio Hoffman and wounded a teacher.

While no one is downplaying the magnitude of the tragedy, officials say that preparation, including lockdown training at the school, may have prevented an even greater loss of lives.

Rob Manning covers education for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti with detail on what officials are saying about emergency preparedness at the school.

Meghna is then joined by Greg Crane, founder of the ALICE Training Institute, which consults and trains schools around the country to be prepared for “active shooter” situations. ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.” Crane maintains that knowledge and preparation creates “options of survival.”

Interview Highlights: Rob Manning and Greg Crane

Manning on concerns over shooting drills

“The drills can be kind of controversial, especially because they’re done in Oregon with students as young as kindergarten. Sometimes they can be kind of frightening. But authorities are definitely saying that you see why they’re done after events like what we saw this week.”

Manning on Reynolds High School’s preparedness

“I think maybe there are a couple of things going on there: one is that the lockdown was in place, and secondly that the school resource officers — the armed guards at the school — were able to confront the shooter.”

Crane on what ALICE teaches

“Primarily, when we’re teaching preparedness, we’re teaching options. I heard the previous caller mention that the lockdown worked and, in some cases, securing in place is the best option. But you know, for those folks who were in the immediate vicinity of the shooter, obviously securing in place wasn’t an option, and they had to get away … In some cases, leaving is going to be the best option. And so we dismiss telling people that there’s only one way to survive a school shooting and that’s by getting into a room and locking a door. There are numerous options. We don’t put restrictions on people when their lives are in danger. They need to understand what their options are, and then make the choice themselves as to which is that best option.”

Crane on student reactions to the program

“The word I’ve often hear is ‘empowered’ … They’ve been taught one thing, but in so many school shootings that one thing has not been applicable. So once we tell them that, look, there are other options in which you can proactively engage for your own survival that don’t involve just securing in place … you see the light-bulb go on.”

Guests

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Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

This is HERE AND NOW. New details are emerging today about the school shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, earlier this week. Officials have identified the shooter as freshman student Jared Michael Padgett. They say he was armed with an AR 15 rifle and carrying nine loaded magazines, which could have shot off many hundreds of rounds the. The gun and ammunition belonged to the boy's family. Police also say that he killed fellow freshman Emelio Hoffman and wounded a teacher.

And while no one is downplaying the magnitude of this tragedy, authorities have added that the school's preparation including lockdown training, may have prevented an even greater loss of lives. Rob Manning covers education for Oregon Public Broadcasting, and he joins us now from the studios of OPB. And, Rob, first of all, tell us what are officials saying - tell us more about what they're saying about preparations at Reynolds High School.

ROB MANNING: Right. Well, as you said, they are really crediting the lockdown drills that they did as basically saving the lives of students and staff. And you can see some evidence just from the TV images that came out on the day of the shooting. You see students emerging from the school, not running but walking calmly, with her hands on top of their heads.

There was a statement from chief Scott Anderson with the Troutdale police yesterday. He was saying sometimes it may be difficult to understand why we law enforcement and the schools collectively do the planning and lockdown drills we do. But yesterday it worked. The drills can be kind of controversial, especially because they're done in Oregon with students as young as kindergarten. Sometimes they can be kind of frightening. But authorities are definitely saying that you see why they're done after events like what we saw this week.

CHAKRABARTI: Right. And I'm seeing that, for example, a key moment in the shooting this week was that teacher Todd Rispler, had encountered the shooter in a locker room. And he even was possibly injured by the grazing of a bullet. But he's the one that then went to the office, even though he was injured, and initiated the lockdown procedure.

MANNING: That's right. And the way they're describing it is it happened very quickly - that he basically saw the shooter, was shot at and was struck - sounds like in his hip or in his side - was able to leave basically that building and go to the main office where he was able to start the lockdown procedure. People had been trained to know what to do when that kind of thing happens. And it basically locks all the classroom doors and students as well knew what to do - knew to stay in their classrooms, knew to go to where they were supposed to go.

CHAKRABARTI: And, Rob, do we know anything more and perhaps all the things we've been discussing as part of the answer, but why did the shooter who had now we know hundreds of rounds to potentially fire, what prevented him from actually shooting more?

MANNING: Well, I think part of it was probably the lockdown procedure that students basically got as far away from him as they could and then got secured into classrooms. Part of it I think, too, is the presence of school resource officers. They're basically sworn police officers who are part of the Troutdale Police Department, who are assigned to Reynolds High School who were on the scene basically there at the school.

And they were there, I've heard them say, within seconds. I don't know exactly how fast but they were there very quickly. And essentially confronted Jared Padgett very quickly and then he retreated into a bathroom where the autopsy indicates he probably killed himself. So I think maybe there are a couple of things going on there. One is that the lockdown was in place, and secondly, that the school resource officers, the armed guards at the school, were able to confront the shooter.

CHAKRABARTI: Rob Manning covers education for Oregon Public broadcasting. Rob, thank you.

MANNING: You're welcome.

CHAKRABARTI: Let's turn briefly now to Greg Crane. He's the founder of the ALICE Training Institute. ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evaluate. The company provides lockdown and safety training to schools around the country.

Greg joins us from Dallas, Texas. Greg, welcome to the program, and let me just briefly ask you to describe - when you go into schools what exactly are you teaching students in terms of preparedness in case a shooter enters the school building?

GREG CRANE: Well, primarily, when we're teaching preparedness, we're teaching options. I heard the previous caller mentioned that the lockdown worked and, in some cases, securing in place is the best option. But, you know, for those folks that were in the immediate vicinity of the shooter, securing in place wasn't even an option and they had to get away.

You know, the teacher that ran to the building to initiate the lockdown announcement, he actually did not secure in place. He evacuated that area, and some cases leaving is going to be the best option. And so we dismiss telling people there's only one way to survive a school shooting and that's by getting into a room and locking a door.

There are numerous options and we don't put restrictions on people when their lives are in danger. They need to understand what all of their options are and then make the choice themselves as to which is that best option.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, I'm wondering if you could very briefly tell me, how do students respond when you come in to do the training? Is it something they've all been through before? Do they feel somewhat uncomfortable about having to think about what to do if a shooter enters a school?

CRANE: The word I often hear is empowered. They've all thought about, you know, what if I was one of those kids who was outside when the shooting started at Columbine. Securing in place did not apply. What if I was one of those kids in the cafeteria at Chardon High School where lock down did not apply?

You know, they've been taught one thing. But in so many school shootings, that one thing has not been applicable. So once we tell them, look, there are other options that you can engage and proactively engage for your own survival that don't involve just securing in place. And once they get that additional information , then you see the light bulbs go off.

CHAKRABARTI: Right. Greg, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to take it back from you there. Greg Crane is founder of the ALICE Training Institute, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evaluate. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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