The Value of Drill

Halfway, OR, ran one at one of its school meetings.

Two masked men wearing hoodies and wielding handguns burst into the Pine Eagle Charter School in this tiny rural community on Friday.  Students were at home for an in-service day, so the gunmen headed into a meeting room full of teachers and opened fire.

Someone figured out in a few seconds that the bullets were not drawing blood because they were blanks and the exercise was a drill, designed to test Pine Eagle’s preparation for an assault by “active shooters” who were, in reality, members of the school staff.

The outcome of the drill was extremely valuable.  First, the principle and staff learned they weren’t as prepared for this sort of event as they thought they were.

Principal Cammie DeCastro said it became clear very quickly just how many of the school’s 15 teachers would have survived.  The answer: “Not many,” she said.


[T]he drill made [one teacher] aware that she would not have recognized the sounds of gunfire. “I would have blown it off as kids’ sounds in the hall,” she said.

The drill has since prompted her…to think of windows as escape routes[.]  But the biggest insight for her was the reminder that she is in charge of the youngsters in her classroom, and would have to remain calm in an emergency.

But the most valuable lesson of the drill was this, articulated by Elementary teacher Morgan Gover:

We are so remote we are going to have to take care of ourselves.

Indeed.  Even in the heart of a city (Halfway’s population is under 300), the police will need time to respond, while it’s the school’s teachers and staff that are immediately present.

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