A high school conducting an active shooter drill on Monday took things to the next level by using the sound of real gunfire. Before the event began, the principal announced, “This is just a drill.” Then, the school’s resource officer fired numerous shots, all blanks, in the hallway in the northwest corner of the building.
[Scroll down for video]
The drill simulated an active shooter on campus at East High School in Anchorage, Alaska.
How the students reacted during the drill was partially dependent on their proximity to the gunfire, with those closer to the source barricading themselves in classrooms while those further away were evacuated.
“We asked the teachers to explain what the procedure was going to be in their classroom, if the shooting was close to their classroom or away from their classroom,” said Sam Spinella, the school’s principal, according to a report by KTVA.
Josh Green, the assistant principal, accompanied the resource officer during the drill, observing how each classroom reacted during the event.
During the drill, Spinella said over the intercom, “The shooter is a middle-aged, dark male with black hair wearing a Carhartt jacket.”
According to Green, during a real incident, school staff would observe footage from the security cameras to identify the shooter and alert other staff members.
The intention of the drill was to familiarize students with the sound of gunfire.
“So many times you read about these active shooter situations where they hear a gun going off like that and they think it’s something different,” said Green. “You’re programmed to think ‘I’m safe all the time,’ right? So, when you hear something like that, you think, ‘I’ve got to take some action on this.’”
The drill helped school administrators determine where improvements can be made. While many classrooms appeared dark and had furniture blocking the door, from at least one, students could be seen from the door, and their laughter carried down the hall.
Parents were notified about the drill in advance, including an email on Friday that encouraged them to speak with their children about the coming drill and a robocall reminder on Sunday that the event was scheduled to occur.
“We don’t want to scare [the students]. We want this to become as close to reality as possible,” said Spinella.
Green asserted that the drill was not in response to the recent mass shooting in Florida, as planning for the event began before that shooting.
IT'S ONLY A DRILL! East High's school resource officer fires blanks inside the school to simulate an active shooter. Training teaches students what gunfire sounds like. pic.twitter.com/ytnOhO0L6Q
— Heather Hintze (@HeatherHintze) March 6, 2018