Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Beyond Sandy Hook" (MASBO Annual Institute 17)

I'm posting this morning from the MASBO Annual Institute in Falmouth where this morning the presentation is "Beyond Sandy Hook" a panel discussion on Sandy Hook. Hashtag for the conference is #MASBOAI17
Presenters this morning:
Michele Gay, parent of Josephine Gay
Daniel Jewiss, CT State Police
Natalie Hammond, teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary
Joseph Erardi, current superintendent of Newton
Erardi introduces panel

Jewiss: was not a first responder, a gatherer of information, assigned as case officer
what happened?
"Save Seconds to Save Lives"
Where do we go from here?
Sandy Hook, K-4, strong program, particularly for special needs programs
heading into the holiday, programs going on for families
doors were locked at 9:30; first 911 call came in at 9:35 (to Newtown PD), followed within seconds by a call to State PD 911
officers on scene at 9:39
shooter commits suicide at 9:40
police in building by 9:46
fires 154 rounds from rifle; two shots from handgun (one of which was suicide)
because of rescue efforts, evidence moved
because of where shootings happened, witnesses were limited, and most were first graders
"what is the value of the information they can share with us...versus the trauma to them" through being interviewed
"there was no piece of information that we could stand up and tell you that was worth putting the kids through that"
still had 351 live rounds on him that were not used; "had capacity to take a lot more" lives
shot his way into the building
administrators meeting are first to be hit
in calling 911, PA system inadvertently activated; since no one was able to call 911, acts as an early warning system
and then we lost these kids and teachers
 as police arrive on scene, shooter kills himself

"are we ready?...are we ready to do what?"
"unfortunately, one of the things we were good at was investigating mass homicides"
are we prepared to stop the threat?
police presence is often enough to stop the threat to others
"are we prepared to save as many lives as possible?"
"nothing prepares you for" doing what might need to be done to stop
CT state troopers at 8 hours of active shooter training in 2012
4 hours of training in active shooter training for dispatchers in CT in 2012
reports list shooters names and number of victims
"we're giving them what they're looking for" their name and a body count
response times are critical: 2 to 3 minutes in 5 worst events
"and those are pretty good"
"what do we do with things we are 'pretty good at'? Absolutely nothing."
but all of us can do something on response times
Columbine was almost 20 years ago: significant shift was can't secure the perimeter and wait for SWAT to come in 55 minutes
how many to wait for to go in? answer that came back was four officers
talking with officers about lessons learned
lessons learned in the academy isn't enough to carry police through; "this is the way we want you to act in this role in this situation"
the way we want them to act in an active shooter situation is "directly different" than what we expect in every other situation"
"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." Patton
Sometimes speed is critical
"time = body count"
"you can get off a lot of trigger squeezes in a second"

Dispatcher: "What's the location of your emergency?"
other introductions take too much time
what's the important thing for the dispatcher to do once they hear something?
the seconds we're shaving here are more important than seconds shaved on the scene
the most important question for the dispatcher to ask in an active shooter situation is where the shooter is (in the building) and that's the most important information for a caller to give (if they have it)
if dispatch knows that schools are trained in lockdowns, they don't have to talk the school through that, which is time they don't have to spare
Identification (gunshots don't sound like they do on TV)
How to call 911: emergency, location (address and where in the building)
What is critical for when you call 911?
are staff trained and are they empowered?
Does the school staff have to call elsewhere to get permission to call outside?
Don't just share the answers; share the questions.
collaboration between schools, EMS, police, fire
everyone owns a piece of this: shave seconds to save lives

Erardi: why at a business administrator conference? Superintendents have a small window of trust "and one of the first to come through that is the business official"

Hammond: "this is who I work with, this is who I work with every day"
"What's working in our building, what's going the right way"
make connections with Jewiss presentation and overlaps with what happened
was in a planning meeting with parents
thought the gunshots were pipes banging; maybe one of the glass cases fell over?
ran out behind the principal and the school psychologist; fell to the floor (she was shot)
"not until you're in the real situation do you have to maybe adjust where you need to go"
Resiliency and moving forward
"that day I do not let be my middle name...I let that day grow me, and make me a better person"
everyone handles it differently
building a sense of community, get everyone to where they need to be
"a club that no one wants to belong to" sharing experience but also things that can be learned

What does "safer" look like?
  • communication with everyone: have to "share the understanding of the whole big picture"
  • Sharing perspective (from child development, from public safety, etc)
  • safe school climate team: not just safety, but school culture. "That has to happen before we can start sharing perspectives"
  • crisis team: who aren't responsible for children; "who can be available without putting children at risk?"
  • "a building that's hard, but not too hard"  And what are entrance protocols (and are they used)? 
  • does the staff all know the plan? Is it being implemented with fidelity? Is it being implemented hands-on? Is everyone allowed to ask their "what if" questions? Subs and helpers need to know, too
  • creating a community: children have a voice and have to use what they know; teachers are trained in the plan and have a voice in the plan
Erardi: does every door in your district lock from the inside? "If the answer is no, I'd say not open up school next year."
every new staff has to understand emergency protocols before taking their position
never believe that your safety plan is done; there's no finish line to it

Michele Gay, Safe and Sound Schools
mother of Josephine Gay, whose birthday party was the next day
planning for evacuation, but "what if you can't go back?" (to the building)
kids came out with their hands on each others' shoulders, having been told to keep their eyes on the ground, as they had to be taken out through the scene of the shooting
kids had practiced evacuation fully and had the muscle memory
she looked for "people in uniforms and people in suits"
people in uniforms had jobs and were not, clearly, able to give information
"not finding people in suits"...where are the administrators?
 "it is everyone's expectation that when they send their kids to school...they will be reunited at the end of the day. And that is a fair expectation"

We default to our level of training and knowledge. "There's not a lot of time for creative problem solving."
students who self-evacuated: they had practiced running down the sidewalk to the firehouse, so they did (and they were seven); told adults that they had stayed on the sidewalk, because they had been taught to stay safe on the sidewalk
kids who told teachers to move something in front of the door (kids who build forts)
  • "We are all first responders"
"it's're it. You're the first responder until the cavalry arrives"
"there's this span of time" after you call 911 before help gets there
"you might be it, for somebody or for a group of people"
  • Simple measures can save lives
"I wish I could lock my door...I wish I had had a landline, because my cell didn't work."
Door had to be locked from outside the door of the classroom, after they retrieved the key
  • How is an emergency announced in a school?
Fire alarms, and then there's the PA. What if you can't get the PA? "That is often the case in a school emergency."
The custodian physically ran through the building, shouting "lockdown" and locking doors.
"we're all putting ourselves to sleep at night" thinking "not here"
"we can't afford to buy into a plan of 'not here'"
First responders: preparation, response, and recovery
Law enforcement liaisons: "you make sure that each one of those families have a go-to"
"each of you are far more important to our communities" than is always realized
picking up the pieces: "to go back and reclaim what was rightfully theirs" for kids
  • Communication with families
Post-crisis, what is your plan for families who have been impacted? Will they stay on list? Who and how will they be talked to and with?
  • How will memorials be handled? Donations? "What stuff happens, stuff comes.  Need for volunteers
  • legal action
  • against estate of shooter, against gun manufacturer, even against the school district

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