Cardinal Gibbons Faculty and Staff Prepare for Upcoming School Year with Active Shooter Training
To better prepare the faculty and staff of Cardinal Gibbons High School for potential emergency and Active Shooter situations, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department facilitated a three-hour Active Shooter training program on campus on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
The program, which is approved and distributed by the Broward County School Board, is intended to assist Broward County middle and high school faculty and staff in creating emergency protocol by introducing Active Shooter response options in a controlled environment. Lieutenant Avery Figueras of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, who facilitated the training session, said, “A lot of this training involves creating a plan and putting protocol into place so that if the worst does occur, the teachers have a plan of action and are mentally prepared.”
Specially trained officers from FLPD led faculty and staff through an Active Shooter situation, which included using simulated gunshots to familiarize teachers with the sound of gunfire, helping them better assess threats on camps. An interactive portion of the training program simulated the campus on a Code Red lockdown, reserved only for Active Shooter threats, where faculty, staff and representatives from FLPD were broken down into small groups to assess the safety of classrooms, determine any environmental safety risks and create a proactive plan to protect students and themselves.
Brian Dunne, a new addition to the Social Studies Department for the 2018-2019 school year, said, “The training helped us take a look at our environment and figure out what’s the best way to prepare our spaces to protect the kids and ourselves.” During the training program, FLPD officers instructed faculty and staff on how to properly barricade doors and windows, as well as explained strategies on how to provide proper coverage and concealment for students. “This was very thorough in terms of giving us a scenario and teaching us how to prepare for this specific situation, in this specific environment,” said Dunne.
The program not only prepared the Cardinal Gibbons faculty and staff to respond to an Active Shooter situation on campus, but also prepared them to act appropriately in the aftermath of an emergency and helped them better understand the processes of student re-unification and returning to regular school operations.
Creating protocol and familiarizing staff with response options in an emergency situation is a crucial step for Broward County schools to take in preparation for Active Shooter threats. “The worst thing you can do is try to make a decision as an incident is occurring. You want to preplan for this as best you can, and talk with police and your administration to establish a plan and protocol before the incident happens so that you’re not trying to make a decision under extreme circumstances,” said Lt. Figueras.
No students were present on campus for the duration of the training session to better instruct teachers on how to respond and lead in an Active Killer situation. Leyna Losito, Co-English Department Chair and teacher, said, “It’s always good to have leaders, like our teachers, trained first, and then once we have a grasp of the knowledge we can better share it with our students.”
Students will receive teacher-guided Active Shooter training during the 2018-2019 school year, where, according to Principal Paul Ott, students will be trained to assist teachers in locking-down classrooms and creating hardened, secure environments on campus.
To prevent the occurrence of an Active Shooter situation on campus, Cardinal Gibbons has implemented a number of new security initiatives over the past six months. In addition to the constant video surveillance present on campus, Cardinal Gibbons is now a single point of entry school, according to Ott. During the hours of 8:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. all campus entrances and exits will be secured. If any individuals wish to enter campus, they will need to be buzzed into the main office, after both audio and visual assessments have been completed by a member of the Cardinal Gibbons staff. All guests and visitors are required to present valid photo identification prior to entering the campus.
The faculty and staff at Cardinal Gibbons are constantly making improvements to our campus, and the safety of students is their number one priority.