Active Shooters – How should students sit or hide in a classroom

There’s something that we have noticed when it comes to conducting active shooter drills.  How you sit in your classroom will affect your visibility and ultimately whether you survive an active shooter event after you’ve chosen to hide in the classroom.  It may not sound like a big deal but it is.  There are several factors and outcomes that happen when you sit incorrectly.  We cover these a lot in our training and typically we get a few chuckles at the beginning, but by the time we’ve run them through the training had them observe and sit in their possessions for 20 or 30 minutes at a time their chuckles turn into sighs of relief and thank you’s.

Watch the video for a fun quick tip on helping prevent active shooter projectiles from penetrating the room.

https://youtu.be/wTRvqWtPN78

Sitting affects your response time

Often times when we are in the middle of an active shooter drill and we start to walk by classrooms we will see staff moving about and also going back down into a crouched position.  When we speak to them afterward we reveal that their legs and back were sore and they were trying to get a little bit of relief.  This is understandable is during a drill you are in the hiding position sometimes for up to 15 or 20 minutes.  If you’re in this oddly crouched position for a long time and active shooter word breach your door, you would not be  able to pop up and respond as quickly as if you were in a comfortable position.  This also leads to the question as to where the teacher should be sitting in the lineup.  But that is not the focus of this particular article so we will dive in deeper and another article for you.

How to increase your chances of survival during an active shooter event

The first concern that you have to tackle is not even how to sit but where to sit.  All too often we are able to view students through the windows simply because they are positioned in the middle of the classroom or right in front of the window on the classroom door.  This goes without saying- that’s a bad decision.  As a teacher, and one who is responsible for the lives of students, you have to make sure that your students have a proper place to sit and hide.  That means that you have to clear out the area where they will sit.  I highly recommend that you take the time to run a few quick “dry fit” drills. Making sure that the area cleared can actually hold the students.

Next what we are really trying to do is make the students as compact as possible.  So their ankles feet and shoes are not visible when looking through the window.  Most of the time when done properly or close to properly, the only thing visible on the students are their feet.  This is typically due to the students relaxing their legs and allowing them to stretch out.

The 2 ways to sit

There are 2 basic ways to set during an active shooter drill to make your students as small and compact as possible.  If you don’t have enough wall space underneath the main visibility area in the classroom then the students can sit with their back to the wall with both shoulders touching and their knees pulled into their chest.  This will give them a small profile and allow them to find a little bit of relief.

If the wall is larger then what we want to do is turn 90° to the wall with one shoulder touching the wall and students sitting chest to back with their knees pulled in.  This will allow a smaller side-to-side profile and also for the students to quickly jump up and help each other up.

Practice practice practice

No matter what you do you have to practice.  You need to put these to the test.  There are a lot of functions and ideas that are available to you but you won’t know if they actually work in your environment and for you until you test them.  I highly recommend you get testing, get practicing. And if you really want to see how you’re doing invite us out at we will evaluate you and your school site.

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