Old technology is the key to increasing cover against active shooters

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It is easy to fall in love with new technology. A fancy gadget might provide some new capability you have never had before. An upgraded app or model could allow you to work faster. And sometimes, it just comes down to having something new and fascinating to play with. The thing is, though, these new tools also tend to be more complicated and less user-friendly.

Old Tech Does Not Equal Bad

When it comes down to an active shooter event, simplicity is the name of the game. So there is something to be said about some of the original technologies and their effectiveness. Take, for instance, pen and paper. If you want to stay on top of status updates or to communicate in an emergency, a pen and paper might be the better option. There are no batteries to charge. You don’t need sunlight for power. And you’re not relying on outside agencies to maintain their networks. You can send messages to your students in a quiet manner without risking the possibility of being seen or heard.

I ran into this very situation during a recent active shooter drill. During the exercise, I observed a school staff attempting to monitor communications from their classrooms. They used their phones both for communication and to track their checklists. After the drill, the principal told me that it was challenging to keep up using her phone and that she would use pen and paper for future emergencies. In that same set of drills, we observed another school staff using a whiteboard to track their incoming messages. It appeared to be much more effective.

The Trouble With Technology

We often forget that older technology may be more environmentally friendly than newer technology. It’s also not usually as dependent on networking technology, unlike many of our latest devices in an increasingly interconnected world. Transmission and cellphone towers need to be operational to send and receive messages. That takes a lot of power, too.

Watch our video here, where we go over this in more detail.


Cover Versus Concealment

The power of a sheet of paper can go well beyond communication. Consider what many such sheets become—a textbook. Many of us want to throw away our old textbooks, but they can be a great form of cover. If you’re unfamiliar with the concepts of cover versus concealment, you may think they are the same. They are quite different.

Concealment is simply being hidden. There is no real barrier between you and projectiles flying at you. Think of it as hiding behind a sheet. You would certainly be hit if someone were to shoot through that sheet. Cover, on the other hand, incorporates protection into concealment. With cover, you are not visible, and there is enough material between you and the projectile to stop it from striking you. Think of a bulletproof vest or large tree. That’s where textbooks come in.

Old textbooks can be placed on your bookshelves to act as cover and increase the material between flying projectiles and yourself. Turning your book sideways will increase the number of sheets those projectiles must pass through. If you place 2 or 3 or 4 books sideways, you drastically increase the amount of material and reduce the initial energy of the projectile. This could be enough to stop a small caliber bullet, deflect it, or reduce its energy so much that penetration into the body is minimal.

We have all seen news stories where the bullet gets stuck in someone’s necktie or bounces off their phone. Cover, or the lack thereof, is a reality we must consider in any active shooter event. Increasing cover improves our chances of survival. So don’t throw away those old books. Use them to increase your cover. Even the most obsolete of old technology may still have its uses.

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