Sarah Fox found herself in a school lockdown drill as part of an active shooter defense course:
‘You are going to do a lockdown drill just like your kids do it’ our instructor said. Ok, let’s see what this is like, I thought. If it’s supposed to be good enough for my child then it should be good enough for me.
I will admit our drill was a little different then the way most schools drill this scenario. In my drill their was going to be a gun man with an air-soft gun. We were told in advance to wear protective clothing and were given a protective mask to wear on our face. If you have ever been hit by an air-soft gun you know you have been hit. We sat in the classroom as students just like millions of kids do everyday. Our teacher was at the board discussing some scientific notion when we got the alert ‘LOCKDOWN‘ we heard and followed the procedure and instruction of our teacher.
The teacher locked the door, turned off the lights and we all went to the corner of the room, got low to the ground and were told to be quiet. There was a bit of whispering and chuckling that went on. Its hard not to travel back to your former school- age self. This visit to our school-age behavior went on for what seemed like a long time and then we heard it. The gun-fire.
A room full of adult participates including school principals, assistant principals, teachers, administrators, school resource officers, police officers and parents went immediately silent. It sounded far away. Our teacher whispered, ‘be quiet’ which frankly I thought was odd since no one was making a sound at that point. Maybe they just didn’t know what else to say. We heard several shots and each time we heard a few go off it wasn’t hard to tell they were getting closer. The anxiety that had started in me before we even entered the room from the thought of being tagged by an air-soft bullet had now jumped so high that my stomach cramped enough to bend me over to where I couldn’t sit up. These shots were coming down the hall.
The self talk started in my head with my imagination running wild thinking of the event as real and with one statement that became like a repeated mantra or silent prayer, ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die. I am going to sit here and die’ Its like I was trying to convince myself of a fact I didn’t want to believe. I couldn’t believe it was happening like this but at the same time I couldn’t deny the gun-fire. I felt sick to my stomach and thought I was going to throw up when I saw my son’s face. He had entered my mind as a participant. What if this was my son? What if he was in this situation? What would he be thinking right now? Probably the same thoughts I was thinking, ‘I’m going to die. I’m never going to see my family again. I’m going to die in my school room.’
Then a few shots happened right outside the door and I felt in one collective movement 25 people take a deep breath and brace. He was coming through the door. I heard him try the handle on the door, which was locked. He took one shot at the lock on the door and it opened immediately.
He shot the teacher first, who was in front of us and then he opened fire on us. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I just couldn’t. And I lowered my head and curled up into a tight ball. He fired shot after shot at the mass of bodies in the corner. I knew when each of the people next to me got hit I could feel their bodies react to it. He just kept shooting. It went on and on and on. My repeated prayer had changed ‘please stop, please stop, please just stop.‘ He final did when he moved on to the next room.
We were told after the drill that the gunman was in the room with us for exactly 30 seconds. I couldn’t believe it was only 30 seconds, it seemed like forever. He shot 17 people most of them multiple times. But I knew if this had been real that number would have been higher.
Air-soft guns can hurt. They shoot tiny little plastic balls that can sting even through clothing. Our gun man was told for safety purposes in this exercise to only aim for extremities and definitely not the head or face. After we went back to the library of the school to discuss to drill people were asked to raise their hands if they got shot and who got shot multiple times. The gunman spoke up and told us he could have shot more but some people were buried behind others and lowered down so low he didn’t want to go against the safety instructions.
So even with 17 people being shot in only 30 seconds in a real situation that would have been much higher since an active gunman doesn’t have any level of compassion, feeling or remorse and they certainly don’t follow any of the rules.
(Hat tip to Greg Ellifritz.)