Ac­tive shooter re­sponse train­ing wraps up at Rap­pa­han­nock schools

‘Op­tions, should we have to face the un­think­able’

Rappahannock News - - NEWS • COMMENT - By Holly Jenk­ins Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News Holly Jenk­ins is the pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for Rap­pa­han­nock County Pub­lic Schools.

Staff mem­bers of both Rap­pa­han­nock County High School and El­e­men­tary School have com­pleted ac­tive shooter re­sponse train­ing — ALICE train­ing — dur­ing which they learned cru­cial safety and sur­vival tips.

ALICE is an acro­nym which stands for alert, lock­down, in­form, counter, evac­u­ate.

Mark Cur­rence and Chris Ubben, deputies of the Rap­pa­han­nock County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice, led the train­ing work­shops by not only ed­u­cat­ing the staff, but tak­ing them through var­i­ous life sav­ing sce­nar­ios if ever faced with an ac­tive gun­man.

When asked about the ex­pe­ri­ence, RCHS staff mem­ber Karen Pem­pel spoke about the im­por­tance of be­ing prop­erly trained for such an event.

“The ALICE train­ing was an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Even though it was fright­en­ing, I be­lieve that in a re­al­world si­t­u­a­tion the chances of sur­vival would be greater as a re­sult,” she said.

Brandon Bur­ley, the high school’s ath­letic di­rec­tor, added: “I be­lieve the train­ing was cru­cial in help­ing our staff un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of an ac­tive shooter and our roles to help min­i­mize catas­tro­phe. Any­time some­thing new is in­tro­duced, it can cre­ate a sense of dis­com­fort; how­ever, I truly feel these steps will ben­e­fit our school and com­mu­nity in the event we were ever faced with a si­t­u­a­tion like this.”

Mean­while, while the high school staff un­der­went ALICE train­ing, the staff at the el­e­men­tary school were learn­ing pre­ven­tive mea­sures by com­plet­ing Youth Men­tal Health First Aid Train­ing. The train­ing is de­signed to help adults see warn­ing signs of both a men­tal health cri­sis and ad­dic­tion.

The course was de­liv­ered by John Waldeck and Sal­lie Mor­gan through the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of Fauquier County, thanks to a grant from the Fauquier Health Foun­da­tion. The course has been avail­able to RCPS staff for the last few years. In fact, Rap­pa­han­nock County Pub­lic Schools was the first Vir­ginia school sys­tem to make this im­por­tant train­ing avail­able to all teach­ers.

RCHS guid­ance coun­selor Dani Pond spoke on the im­por­tance of both of these types of train­ing among Rap­pa­han­nock’s ed­u­ca­tors.

“We can­not pre­tend that school vi­o­lence will never hap­pen in our schools and we must be proac­tive in or­der to keep our stu­dents safe. I ap­pre­ci­ate the two-fold ap­proach that our su­per­in­ten­dent and sher­iff’s of­fice has taken. We are ad­dress­ing the causes and signs of school vi­o­lence cou­pled with be­ing equipped with op­tions, should we have to face the un­think­able.”

In ad­di­tion, RCPS Su­per­in­ten­dent Shan­non Grim­s­ley ad­dressed the im­por­tance of stu­dent safety.

“These train­ings are just the be­gin­ning of the com­pre­hen­sive, proac­tive ap­proach we are tak­ing to mod­ify and im­ple­ment safety and cri­sis man­age­ment plans that are prac­ti­cal and con­ducive to en­sure stu­dent safety. We are not only con­cern­ing our­selves with how we re­spond to an emer­gency, but how we cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment of aware­ness and a cul­ture of pre­pared­ness where we are bet­ter able to as­sess a threat and pre­vent an emer­gency.”

This past week, the ALICE train­ing was held for el­e­men­tary school staff, while the high school staff com­pleted the Men­tal Health First Aid Train­ing.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Rap­pa­han­nock County Sher­iff's Deputies Mark Cur­rence and Chris Ubben ed­u­cate county teach­ers and staff on life sav­ing sce­nar­ios if ever con­fronted by an ac­tive gun­man.

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