Over the past three years, the Barrington 220 School District has partnered with multijurisdictional first responders on training to ensure everyone’s preparedness - should an unimaginable situation happen in our schools.
The life-like enactment of a mass shooting was the final of three drills that have taken place in the school district. The first drills were held in 2015 at Barrington High School and Station Middle School. Unfortunately, Barrington High School needed to put what they learned into action on November 30th of the same year. A teacher noticed a student was in possession of a firearm in school and alerted administration. Fortunately, due to swift police response and a successful school lockdown, the student was taken into custody peacefully and without incident.
Just over five years ago, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, experienced every parent and school administration’s nightmare when 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered the school and fatally shot 20 students and 6 staff members. In response to the tragedy, school districts across the United States looked at their security plans and sought out new ways they could best prevent a tragedy like Sandy Hook happening in their communities. In addition to tightened and more advanced security systems and procedures put in place, many schools, like Barrington 220, have performed ‘Active Shooter Training’ with their local police, fire and rescue teams.
The “Run, Hide, Fight” method used in the Barrington 220 drills is a multi-agency effort. First responders that cover all of the Barrington 220 Elementary Schools took part in the drill at Roslyn Road School including The Villages of Barrington, Barrington Hills, Carpentersville, South Barrington, Lake Zurich and Lake County. The drill allowed them to practice and learn to work together should an active shooter situation happen in one of the seven area elementary schools.
“This drill is as important to all of us responders as it is to you,” Village of Barrington Police Chief David Dorn shared with the elementary school staff. “There is a saying that ‘you don't want to encounter something the first time during an incident response’. This drill helps us work with all the possible responders to best handle the situation.”
Organized by the Village of Barrington Police & Fire Departments, they had a Barrington 220 staff member play the role of the armed suspect and taught him how and when to open fire at the school during the drill.
Other elementary staff members participated in the drill as victims and had make-up applied to simulate injuries, but most participated as teachers designated to different zones inside the school. Zone One was the most dangerous with the active shooter, Zone Two had some exposure to the shooter, and Zone Three had little to no contact with the assailant. To make the drill as life-life as possible, real weapons without bullets were fired. The noise helped the participants know the location of the danger and form their response.
After the drill, the school staff gathered to ask questions and share their experience with Chief Dorn and Barrington 220 administration. Chief Dorn congratulated the group for their efforts.
“This group made the best barricades I have seen,” complimented Chief Dorn.
A question was asked about pulling wounded people to safety in hiding spaces with others. The answer Chief Dorn gave was surprising and a good learning moment.
“In an active shooter situation we may not get to those safely hiding until much later than those who are wounded and hurt,” said Dorn. “Our first attention is to save those in front of us. If they are shot, they would be responded to faster and have a better chance of survival if you leave them outside the hiding space.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reported that since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre there have been over 50 attempts of mass murder at schools in the United States. It is an unfortunate reality but one for which the Barrington 220 community is now prepared.