Teachers get a lesson in survival

COLUMBIANA – County educators spent time in the classroom on Saturday, but this time they were the students.

Teachers and other school employees from across the county spent just over two hours at the Columbiana High School learning how to respond if someone opens fire in their schools.

The event was co-sponsored by the First Christian Church on Cherry Street and taught by Columbiana Detective Wade Boley with assistance from members of the county’s special response team.

Boley said the training began coming together in response to the Newtown, Conn. shooting that left more than 20 people dead in December.

He said the First Christian Church contacted the police department about sponsoring an event because of what happened in Connecticut.

“They wanted to do something for schools and teachers,” he said.

Information about the event was sent to all the county school districts and Boley said about 82 people attended. Teachers, administrators, teacher aides, bus drivers, and basically all school employees were encouraged to attend.

Boley stressed the event was not about training teachers with regards to concealed carry or how to use guns.

“I don’t teach anything about arming teachers, nor does the state. It is real time, right now, what can you do (to survive in a shooting),” he said.

Shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ohio officials announced safety training for educators would be enhanced across the state. The training would be conducted by the state police training academy.

The idea of whether it should include arming teachers has been somewhat controversial, with some – like Attorney General Mike DeWine – embracing the idea and others rejecting it. Ultimately, DeWine said the decision would rest on each school district’s board of education.

In East Liverpool, school board member Richard Wolf said he opposed arming teachers and earlier this month discouraged the district’s employees from taking the state police one-day Active Shooter Response Training for Educators course.

The school board agreed with his stance and passed a motion at that time to send a letter to DeWine and other agencies opposing the course.

Boley said educators from East Liverpool attended the Columbiana training, which is not related to the state course, although the curriculum is somewhat similar.

The local training was the product of Boley’s skills in the police field. He is also a member of the county’s special response team.

“If I have some knowledge and expertise that I can share in my career field to those who have never had that training, two hours might be the difference between life and death,” he said.

Teachers learned skills in the classroom and also received hands-on training, which is something Boley said he believes the state course doesn’t currently offer.

The first half of the class was a lecture on the paradigm shift of most policies in terms of active shooter events.

“Now (the policy) is to go into lockdown, and that’s OK, but we’ve learned from the Connecticut shootings,” he said.

He explained that even though the school went into lockdown and teachers and students hid away from the shooter, several still lost their lives.

During the local training educators learned the difference between cover and concealment in the classrooms. The difference is substantial.

Boley said cover is something that a person can hide behind that will stop a live round. Concealment is only something that hides a person’s location and doesn’t protect from a live round.

“Most people, when they see a movie or a shoot-out on television, that person will hide behind a couch and there won’t be any bullets go through that couch. That is not reality. The reality is bullets pass through things, through walls, chairs, and desks. The reality of it is not everything that you hide behind is going to stop a bullet,” he said.

Hands-on training included an outdoor demonstration in which live rounds were fired at classroom objects such as desks to show what bullets could penetrate through.

Boley said he was impressed with the amount of interest shown in the class and is optimistic more will be offered in the future.