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Expert Safety Advice to Protect Students and Teachers During a Crisis

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Hector Delgado

Retired United States Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander

“Schools should be conducting an overall security risk assessment,” says retired United States Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Hector Delgado, whose nearly 30-year career of active and reserve service also includes time as a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations. “It needs to be a very comprehensive approach that would incorporate taking a look at technology upgrades, hardening their structures, training staff and faculty, and expanding their school resource officer force.” 

Changes 

A risk assessment will help each school identify vulnerabilities.

“That self-assessment has to prioritize, ‘what do we need to fix first?’” says Delgado, noting every school has different needs and varying budgets. 

Schools should consider if they need more security resource officers. If they don’t have one, do they need an armed guard or armed police officer instead? If a school is considering an armed guard or officer as part of their security measures moving forward, they also need to look at the type of firearms, physical fitness standards, and training for all these individuals.

Make appropriate safety changes on campus, including putting deadbolts on doors, replacing entryway glass with something more durable, and having tools like door stops and other environmental items to assist in enhanced barricades.

Technology and training 

Ask yourself if you have the right technology in place. While cameras are helpful after-the-fact for evidentiary purposes, they don’t necessarily help in the moment — unless they are manned with a reaction force. Technology that can integrate with access control (e.g., door lock-downs, video monitoring, mobile applications, and emergency warning systems) should be considered during the school’s security review and upgrade processes.  

Last year, there were 24 school shootings during which 35 kids and adults were killed. At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 students and staff were killed and another 17 were injured in a shooting that lasted six minutes. 

It took law enforcement 11 minutes to arrive on campus. During that time, students and staff were running, hiding, and looking for safety. Unfortunately, some students and teachers were ambushed by running into gunfire.

Three years ago, Delgado launched ASR Alert System, a threat and medical alert system, that once activated, will directly notify first responders of an incident in real time. Additionally, the ASR Alert System notifies staff and faculty of the location where the system was initiated so individuals can make an informed decision to survive the incident.

Delgado says it’s important to keep students and families informed without scaring anyone. Younger students need to know these security measures can help keep them safe, while teens can be engaged in prevention and response. Under stress most people will lose fine motor skills, such as something as simple as unlocking your phone. That’s where the training of what to do under pressure, as well as conducting drills and exercises, comes into play as a critical piece of the puzzle.

He wants to empower everyone on campus to be safe: “It’s all about taking some responsibility for your survival.”

Kristen Castillo, [email protected]

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