Syracuse Schools: Developing district-wide active shooter response training a priority

STA president pushing for action plans specific to district buildings

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Just days before the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 30 members of the Syracuse Teachers Association were participating in active shooter response training.

STA President Megan Root addressed the school board Wednesday night during its meeting -- emphasizing the need for this type of training to be expanded.

"As teachers and administrators -- we're on the front lines. We are the first responders," Root explained. "When the police and the emergency personnel do show up, they're not there to help the wounded, they're there to take down the wounded. We need to have as many tools in our pockets as we can so we can save our lives but as many other lives as we can as well."

Root says, "it's scary," to think this training is necessary, but says she understands why it's needed.

"We were all acknowledging that it was really sad that we live in times where this is an issue, but it really is in this country. It was scary," Root said. "There was some people in the training who said they sat in their car and they weren't sure they were going to come inside the building because they weren't sure they could handle it."

Root says the training helped her realize she has "more options than the shooter," and that everyone needs to have these skills to be ready in the event of an active shooter in a school. Root says trainers stressed that civilians can run, hide and fight, but the shooter is either going "to kill or be killed."

So far, Nottingham High School has received some form of active shooter training, according to Jaime Alicea, the Syracuse City School Superintendent.

On Thursday, Alicea says he will begin discussions with his director of security to develop building specific plans for the district. When asked if this type of planning and training is in the budget -- he says safety is a priority, so they will find a way to make it happen.

Root says the training needs to reach not only teachers, but front office staff, nurses and substitute teachers for it to be effective.

The STA members received training from Armoured One, a security company based in Central New York. Workers travel across the nation to train teachers for active shooter emergencies.

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