By Emma Crawford Kent
TUPELO – Tupelo Public School District educators got a lesson in emergency management Thursday, particularly in how to react in the event of an active shooter situation.
Jeff Broaddus, senior associate at Austin, Texas-based consulting firm Broaddus & Associates, worked with representatives from each of TPSD’s schools.
The educators who attended the training are members of their schools’ crisis management teams. Members of TPSD’s department of security, including School Security and School Resource officers, also attended.
Broaddus, a former Marine and Special Agent of the United States Secret Service, said he talked to teachers about decision-making in emergency situations.
He also explained how the mind works under stress and even covered some medical procedures that could be needed in an emergency.
“In the event that there is an active shooter, we teach them an avoid-deny-defend model,” Broaddus said.
He advises teachers that an effective response involves more that simply a lockdown. According to Broaddus, avoidance and lockdown is critically important, but that they should aggressively defend their lives and those of their students, should the need arise and if forced to do so.
Andy Cantrell, TPSD director of operations, said those who attended will review what they learned at Thursday’s training and take it back to their schools to share.
“What we’re trying to do is try to improve the human software,” Broaddus said.
Broaddus provides training mostly for teachers, and he said he finds they are generally very eager to learn new ways to protect their students should the need arise.
“I think the most important thing, and one of the reasons I love working with school teachers, is they have an intense desire to protect the children in their charge,” Broaddus said.
Broaddus has spent most of the week with the school district, observing its security operations and helping perform a voluntary safety and security audit before leading Thursday’s training.
“From a technical capability standpoint, it’s clear that the district has committed a lot of time and money and effort into selecting their technical systems,” Broaddus said. “I was very impressed; they are definitely ahead of the curve.”
According to Cantrell, Broaddus will prepare a report for the district on things they’re doing well and things they could do better.
“This was an opportunity to really concentrate and focus on the facilities,” Cantrell said. “We feel like we’re doing a good job, but it’s always a good idea to get a fresh set of eyes from an expert.”
Broaddus said he tries to drive home the message that these types of events can happen anywhere, not to create fear, but to encourage preparedness.
“You can’t predict what will happen, but you can predict how we will respond to an incident,” Cantrell said.