Florida high school teachers had active shooter training 6 weeks before the attack -- and students say it saved their lives

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBroward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie with families
  • A survivor of the Florida school shooting wrote an op-ed claiming that the training teachers received on active shooters six weeks before the shootings saved lives.
  • A teacher interviewed shortly after the event confirmed that the training took place, and that things “could have been a lot worse” without it.
  • President Donald Trump has come out against active shooter drills, calling them “crazy.”

As more personal accounts have emerged from the Parkland, Florida school shooting earlier this month in which 17 people were killed, students and teachers alike have touted the active-shooter training teachers received in the weeks before the shooting, and credited it with saving numerous lives during the massacre.

In a New York Times op-ed, Florida shooting survivor Carson Abt wrote that the teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were forces of calm amid the chaos of that day.

“My teachers are the light. Through a combination of training and determination, they calmed the fear of some and saved the lives of others,” Abt wrote. “Maybe heroism can’t be taught, but preparedness certainly can be. Every teacher should have training for a school shooting like mine did.”

Shortly after the shooting, a teacher interviewed on Miami’s WSVN 7 said the training was a huge boon for the school’s response.

“This is the type of situation that we just had a training about this, not maybe like six weeks ago about how to deal with this situation, and if we hadn’t had that training it could have been a lot worse,” the unnamed teacher said over the phone. “I managed to put 19 kids in the closet with me. … We were in the closet for probably 40 minutes.”

In his op-ed, Abt described how this real world situation compared to the Code Red training drills he and his classmates had to do weeks before the shooting.

“All doors must be locked, lights are turned off and students are kept in the classrooms away from windows,” Abt wrote. “For any type of emergency or drill, teachers must account for all their students. After the training, the teachers discussed with the students in each of their classes what to do. We were told where to hide and how to evacuate.”

Trump’s mixed response on preparedness

But Abt says that despite the evidence, President Donald Trump is not convinced such drills would be a good idea.

“On Wednesday, I took that message to President Trump at his White House listening session with students and parents from Parkland,” he wrote. “The next day, he announced his disapproval of my idea that schools should have more active shooter training.”

Trump said he was opposed to such drills because he didn’t want his own son to experience them, according to CNN.

“Active shooter drills is a very negative thing, I’ll be honest with you,” Trump said on Thursday. “I think that’s a very negative thing to be talking about. I don’t like it. I don’t want to tell my son, ‘You’re going to have to participate in an active shooter drill.’ I’d much rather have a hardened school.”

“I think it’s crazy,” Trump added. “I think it’s very bad for children.”

The National Center for Education Statistics stated that during the 2015-2016 school year, lockdown drills were conducted at 94.6% of public schools, according to Vox. This number has risen sharply as more school shootings have taken place, and has more than doubled since the early 2000s. Currently, schools in 32 states are required to conduct active shooter drills, but many in other states have also done so independently.

In the days following the listening session, Trump came out in favour of gun safety legislation on Twitter.

“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health,” the president tweeted on Thursday. “Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!”

Trump also echoed the proposal he made at the end of the session to arm some experienced teachers with weapons on Saturday.

“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them,” he tweeted. “Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”

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