A computer-based simulator has been created to help prepare teachers on how to react in active shooter scenarios. The program generates a virtual environment similar to those used by the Army to help soldiers train for a range of combat scenarios and improve their tactics. The school-related version will be ready to launch by spring, according to Homeland Security officials.
The $5.6 million simulator, called Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, will hopefully give teachers the tools necessary to react appropriately to stressful and often unexpected scenarios.
“With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them,” said the project’s chief engineer, Tamara Griffith. “Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality. We want to teach teachers how to respond as first responders.”
Project manager Bob Walker said the simulator will place teachers in active-shooter situations and, according to a report by Fox News, educators will be presented with seven options during the scenario that can help them keep children safe.
However, some may be too scared to react, as the program adds realistic elements that teachers would likely encounter.
“Once you hear the children, the screaming, it makes it very, very real,” said Walker.
The program also allows the shooter to either be an adult or a child. According to Walker, “We have to worry about both children and adults being suspects.”
To maintain a level of realism, program designers listed to authentic dispatch tapes from multiple school shootings and spoke with the mother of a child who was killed during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, where 20 children and six educators were killed when a gunman entered the school.
Griffith said, “It gives you chills when you think about what’s happening on those tapes.”
“It tore us apart to listen to her and what she went through,” she continued.
The purpose of the EDGE program is to prepare teachers should an armed attacker enter a school, allowing them to more effectively save lives.
“I hope that people will sort of see this simulation as a really cool and engaging way to think about school safety,” said director of operations at Educator’s School Safety Network Amanda Klinger.
According to Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Verrico, the program will be free to educators and administrators.