BY MICHELLE BILTON
Staff must complete a new active shooter preparedness training module within 30 days. It features an animated security guard who walks participants through the process.
“Things you should consider beforehand, in any emergency situation, for example, where are the exits? What do my surroundings look like? And then we talk about, what is an active shooter, what that kind of situation might look like. It’s unpredictable, it evolves quickly,” says Darby Pierson, emergency manager at Sheridan. “There’s a section on how will I know there’s an active shooter? The emergency notification will broadcast over the speakers, you’ll get an alert on your phone if you subscribe to Sheridan alerts. And then we talk about what the best advice is, and the best advice is to get out, hide, defend. We just go through those steps really quickly.”
It also addresses a commonly asked question: What if you want to take a different course of action than your classmates/coworkers? For example, someone wants to hide, and you want to run away. “We all get to decide for ourselves what action we want to take at the time. So, if you want to hide you can definitely hide, and if I want to leave, there’s nothing that’s preventing me from doing that,” says Pierson.
According to Ivan L’Ortye, Halton Regional Police inspector, the ideal response to an active shooter situation should adapt to the situation. “The actions of faculty and students are dependent on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the type of attack, number of attackers, weapons used, risk of explosion and/or fire and proximity to exits.”
The American debate of arming teachers is not likely to happen in Canada. Sheridan prohibits weapons of any kind on campus, and strict Canadian gun laws make it nearly impossible.
“There are different gun laws, different feelings on gun ownership, I think. I haven’t seen a lot of research to indicate that arming teachers or educators is the best practice. I don’t think there’s enough evidence right now to support that, personally. I’m not speaking for Sheridan. Personally, I’m not sure that’s the best way to go yet,” says Pierson.
Pierson hopes everyone takes the training and considers what they would do if an active shooter was on campus. She adds a little pre-planning would be very useful, even though no one is completely prepared for the unthinkable.