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 When Time Matters, Every Second Counts

10/10/2018 7:30 AM

​As we return from summer break, I want to take time to emphasize the importance of practicing our reactions to any given emergency in a serious and deliberate manner. As recently experienced in a local Rockford private school, staff had seconds to respond to a suspected gunman in their building. Staff quickly assessed and determined their need to evacuate and head to their local shelter, leading more than 120 students on foot to safety about a quarter mile away​. This was no simple act and took knowledge of their emergency plan, practice and determination to execute quickly and safely. Thankfully, the situation was not as initially thought to be. 

In 2018, CNN reported there were 23 reported school attacks in the US (CNN, May 25). The common thread: the speed of the attacks and the lack of time people had to assess and respond. During drills, we provide staff and students the opportunity to practice their response, hone skills and develop habits. The time gained with an instantaneous response can be the difference in life or death. When time matters, every second counts. To provide students and staff with the best possible tools, we partnered with Rockford Police to train them in a variety of techniques known as A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate). Knowledge of school plans and comprehension and use of these tools enhance our ability to respond to any given situation in a moment’s notice and reach far beyond an active shooter.

Lastly, staff members have impact. The way they practice is conveyed to their students. Their sense of purpose and manner of execution is contagious. Staff: students observe and mimic your tone. Take practice seriously, so will your students. Less than serious, so will your students. Every student you touch leaves a lasting impression.

So, whether it be a fire, tornado, severe weather or law enforcement drill, your demeanor, dedication and sense of purpose go a long way in showing these young people we are teaching them a life skill. A skill bigger than the classroom, one that will outlive us all and have the real potential of saving a life. 

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