By RANDY TATANO
Special to Atmore News
It’s a teacher’s worst nightmare, and one they don’t like thinking about.
But they have to be prepared just in case.
That’s why Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson and Superintendent Michele McClung worked together to provide specialized “active shooter” training for teachers and school personnel, Tuesday, October 11. It’s designed to teach school employees how to deal with a worst-case scenario should someone gain access with a gun.
Sheriff Jackson called on his friend and counterpart Sheriff Chip Simmons of Escambia County, Florida, who already had a training team in place.
“Two Escambias, one mission,” Jackson said.
Simmons sent his instructors across the border to the Flomaton High School campus to teach the class.
“The class taught teachers what they need to do to keep students protected, safe places to hide, when to run,” Jackson said.
School personnel were then part of a scenario with simulated gunfire complete with role players. “They learn how to best secure doors, what to expect. The training focused on what the teacher’s job is during an emergency.”
Students were not on campus during the training.
Superintendent McClung knows the topic is a sensitive one.
“Unfortunately it’s a necessary training these days, she said. “Our Centegix badges along with the active shooter training provided by Sheriff Jackson helped our employees become more prepared for emergencies on and off school campus. I’m grateful our employees actively participated in the training and reflected on enhancing safety in our schools.”
Last year the Sheriff’s Office worked in conjunction with the school system to implement the new Centegix high tech security system. Each school employee wears a badge that can notify law enforcement of an emergency with a touch of a button instead of using precious seconds to call 911. Centegix has already been used successfully in a few medical emergencies.
Flomaton Elementary Principal Courtney McBride said the training was invaluable.
“The active shooter training was very emotional and an eye-opening experience,” she said. “In the midst of chaos, we all learned that everyone can play an integral role in mitigating the impacts of an active shooter incident. If a crisis situation does occur, having people with skills and knowledge to respond appropriately can and will save lives. This training heightened our awareness of the need to prepare for worst case scenarios.”
Brewton resident Randy Tatano is a veteran TV news reporter and network producer, and is currently a novelist and freelance writer for the Escambia County School System.