Drill puts teachers, administrators under fire - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Drill puts teachers, administrators under fire

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Teachers and administrators took turns playing the roles of teachers, students and police in active shooter situations. (abc3340.com) Teachers and administrators took turns playing the roles of teachers, students and police in active shooter situations. (abc3340.com)
Teacher Alanna Shankles feels every teacher in Birmingham should participate in active shooter training. (abc3340.com) Teacher Alanna Shankles feels every teacher in Birmingham should participate in active shooter training. (abc3340.com)
Sgt. James Burns supervises the school resource officers in the Bessemer cutoff. (abc3340.com) Sgt. James Burns supervises the school resource officers in the Bessemer cutoff. (abc3340.com)
BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Some teachers and school administrators encountered shooters with wax bullets Wednesday. The drill tested their ability to keep students safe during a shooting.

Local schools have lockdown plans and drills. Jefferson County school administrators put theirs to the test. They spent the final day before classes resume undergoing active shooter training.

The teachers and administrators took turns playing the roles of teachers, students and police in active shooter situations. Their immediate goal was to get students to safety while taking out multiple shooters. The other was to expose any holes in their plans.

Wednesday morning began in a makeshift cafeteria in an old school filled with teachers, and teachers and administrators pretending to be students.

Within seconds, wax bullets started firing and the fake s hooters yelled, "don't go anywhere." 

The students and teachers ducked in a corner as a school resource officer entered and ordered them to get out.

"My heart- it was like, 'I'm going to hyperventilate.' It was very, very intense," said Alanna Shankles, a teacher at the Jefferson County Counseling Center East.

"While we think what's the best case scenario for the our students, we have to think- 'how am I getting from where I am to where I need to be.' Lots of things to think about," said Ann Tillman, principal of Grantswood Community School. 

Pretend victims fell to the ground as Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies dressed as the shooters in the drill continued firing.

"You don't know what you'll do. You just hope and pray you do the right thing," said Shankles.

In this scenario, the teachers took students to classrooms where students took cover and hid while teachers locked the doors and turned off the lights.

"His [the shooter's] mentality is: I want to see death. I want to see someone die. They will not shoot in doors. They will not shoot through doors," said Sgt. James Burns who supervises the school resource officers in the Bessemer cutoff.

School shootings from Columbine in 1999 to Sandy Hook have proved running, closing doors, locking them, and hiding saves lives.

Burns' saying is call out, get out, hide out, keep out and take out. Call out is using the code to notify staff that the lockdown plan needs initiating. Get out is simply fleeing. Hide out is to take cover out of sight. Keep out is staying away from the shooting area. Take out is the last resort and involves fighting.

"These are things I'll have to go back and look at, play out the different scenarios instead of assuming everyone was in their classrooms," said Tillman.

"I think this is something we should do continuously. It had me thinking I'm not as prepared as I thought I was. But I'm now prepared," said Shankles.

The deputies undergo similar training. They too have plans, which involve immediately sending two or three armed deputies to assist the school resource officers.

A task force in Etowah County also met to evaluate school safety and create a new plan.

But don't expect to see copies of the plans. They aren't public for safety reasons.

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