By: Brian Villalba
A lockdown drill conducted at East Los Angeles College showed that most of us are not ready for an active shooter on campus.
Students everywhere got another reminder of how real a threat this is on Monday when another school shooting took place in Reno.
There were two killed and two injured.
This is serious.
It isn’t a joke and awareness needs to be a priority.
ELAC students were not engaged. Engagement is the key to a successful lockdown drill.
Some students complained that they were not able to get to their classes exactly when they wanted, or into the library the very instant they desired.
There were also reports of staff and faculty confusion as to where to direct students.
In P2, the performing and fine arts building, students were directed to exit the building, then they were directed back into the building before the All Clear Signal.
The flier that was posted all over campus had a headline that simply said “Run. Hide. Fight.” Clearly the clarity of the flyer was lost on those providing this direction.
Run, hide, fight is as simple as direction could be.
Preparation for something as serious as an active shooter deserves serious organization.
Student engagement was the focus of an active shooter drill at Cal State Long Beach, which has roughly the same number of students as ELAC.
Cal State Long Beach went all out by including local first responders in a realistic role-playing drill.
First responders from campus police, Long Beach Fire department and St. Mary’s Medical Center spanned the campus in the drill.
They even had makeup artists simulate injuries.
That level of engagement may not be necessary to prepare students for an active shooter crisis, but it would have been more engaging to include a person role-playing the active shooter to demonstrate tactical challenges in a tangible sense.
In the Cal State Long Beach drill, the active shooter would knock on classroom doors and tell the occupants that he was police. He told the occupants to open the door. This is against the clear instructions of the lockdown drill.
You are supposed to wait until the all clear to open your doors.
This is a very important lesson as the Santa Monica College gunman attempted to gain access to a locked-down classroom in much the same way.
The occupants did not open the door and are alive today as a result.
Just moments after denying the gunman access, he was taken down.
During our lockdown there were protests by students.
It certainly isn’t the kind of engagement the drill was intended for, but at least these students read the flyer.
Having a greater level of engagement in the planning of the lockdown will achieve a greater level of success with everyone involved.
If we had first responders on campus, then it would add to the seriousness of the drill.
If ELAC had emergency services moving around campus in response to the active shooter, we are less likely to have students whining about how they had to wait a few minutes to get into class.
Those same students will be engaged whether they want to or not.
There was plenty to learn from the lockdown drill.
There are plenty of students that would participate in a full active shooter drill. We have plenty of first responders-in-training here on campus. We have nursing, law enforcement and firefighters all going to school here at ELAC.
The drill, and the recent school shooting show us that we are not doing what we can to prepare.