HANCOCK — Summer vacation is something every teacher looks forward to this time of year, but before it begins, Keweenaw educators are taking one more lesson in public safety.
The Houghton and Keweenaw Counties Active Shooter Training Team has been visiting area schools and conducting safety drills where teachers are polishing up on crisis management techniques.
“How do we respond? How should we respond? How could we respond, given all of the things that could happen. What is the best scenario when everything is on the line?” said Hancock High School Principal, Ezekiel Ohan.
This is a training exercise that is becoming a more common practice for area educators.
“Several years ago we as a law enforcement community realized that during an active shooter incident all of the damage is done prior to the police arriving,” said Charlie Klein, a deputy of the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department.
Teachers are being taught how to be best prepared for the unthinkable in the name of safety and casualty prevention.
“A few of us in the area went to training to be able to take that training further into the school and train the staff and the teachers on what they can do prior to us arriving to ensure a better outcome,” said Klein.
Klein is a member of a Keweenaw area multi jurisdictional task force that’s made up of Members from the Houghton Police Department, Michigan State Police and the Houghton County Sheriff’s Department, that has been assigned to handle these situations and the preparation for such an incident. After a classroom lesson where teachers learn how to better secure their own class rooms, Klein stepped into the role of an assailant, sending the staff on a simulated scramble.
“We use a blank gun during training. We want the teachers to hear what an actual gun sounds like. They’ll be able to smell the gun powder. If someone’s not familiar with a bun or has ever been around a door when its gone off this exposes them to what gun powder smells like within a school. You could be on one end of a school and hear it and it doesn’t necessarily sound like a gun shot,” said Klein.
When asked if anyone thought that an active shooter incident could not occur here, not one person raised their hand.
“That’s what were here doing to have best case scenarios, best practice to make sure that the kids that leave households return to households, because that’s a very reasonable expectation,” said Ohan.