Survival becoming part of lesson plan at Indiana schools

Preparing students "just in case" is top of mind for school administrators.
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With mass shootings in the news, more schools and businesses are taking part in training exercises to protect students and workers.

Survival is in the lesson plan now for teachers and students at Western Boone Junior-Senior High School in Boone County. Every student will be required to learn survival techniques in case someone with a gun threatens their school.

Boone County mother Elizabeth Burtner spends most hours running her consignment shop The Bargain Boutique in Thorntown, Indiana.  She doesn't get a chance to talk to her son throughout the school day because students are not allowed to use their cell phones.

Learning about the upcoming active shooter training, Burtner wants her 17-year-old son paying close attention on how to protect himself. When she does think about him being safe, "I worry about shooters, kids coming in mad because they have been bullied," she said.

Western Boone keeps all doors locked at all times. The building has both interior and exterior security cameras. A front office receptionists must buzz in visitors after they identify themselves and reason for visiting.

However, there are times when the building is most vulnerable. Students and faculty use several side and back doors during morning and lunch time breaks.

Assistant Principal Jon Compton will also address reporting strangers as part of the school's upcoming active shooter training.

If someone does open fire in the school, there are a number of scenarios included in the training. Safety and getting out of harm's way are primary, but not conclusive. 

"We are getting away from the times that if there was a shooter in here I would run, duck and hide in the corner," said Compton.

After completing his training earlier this September, Compton will oversee active shooter training for the schools faculty, staff, teachers and close to 600 students.

"I am a father myself and rely on other adults to help keep my children safe," said Compton, "I have a huge responsibility to keep our student body safe and this training will help do just that."  

School districts across central Indiana say training like this is not only now necessary, but has become the norm. Law enforcement agencies like the Boone County Sheriff's Department are partnering with their school districts to pass along the life saving training.

Compton will try to make the drill as close to reality as possible. He is still deciding on exact student participation and will even include parents and local emergency personnel.

"You try to barricade the door and they get in and I would hope that our kids and faculty understand that I don't want them sitting there being a target for somebody," he said.  

Compton compares the training to that of school fire and tornado drills also designed to save lives. 

Boone County Deputy Deb Martin strongly supports the training and hopes it happens district-wide.

"I am a resource officer for several of our schools and keeping the students safe is more important than ever now," said Martin. "The active shooter training is one way to practice what we need to do if something happens."

Part of the training will also include watching video clips to help give teachers and students some idea about what they are about to embark upon.

"You never know what's going to happen at any minute of the day," said Elizabeth Burtner. "I think it's a good idea." Many of the law enforcement agencies are being trained by instructors from the company A.L.I.C.E. (which stands for Alert Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.) The services are offered to both the private and public sector across the country.