A Safe Defense For Our Lives

Last year, USD 266 administrators made the decision to install the SafeDefend emergency kits into our classrooms to help the fight against school shootings.

The+SafeDefend+system+is+triggered+by+a+finger+print+from+a+staff+member+to+alert+administration%2C+district+officials+and+local+authorities+to+the+exact+location+of+a+specific+threat+in+the+classroom.

Photo Illustration by Shiah McLain

The SafeDefend system is triggered by a finger print from a staff member to alert administration, district officials and local authorities to the exact location of a specific threat in the classroom.

Ty Rains, Bullseye Web Editor and Reporter

Our society is faced with a terrible and looming threat: school shootings. Parents feel worried about sending their children to school, wondering if they’ll come back or not and teachers have to receive special training to protect their students.

To help prevent these shootings, USD 266 took action this past summer and installed the SafeDefend Personnel Protection System, a box placed in every classroom filled with emergency supplies such as a baton, pepper spray, a trauma kit, and much more. But are these supply-filled boxes really keeping us safe, or are they just as a sort of sense of comfort?

Illustration shows the procedure that the teachers, students, and first responders would undergo in an active shooter situation. (Infographic by Ty Rains)

The SafeDefend systems are a way to help notify first-responders sooner than that of a phone call. Assistant Principal Dave Nash wanted this as a way to make sure that students and faculty get to safety as soon as possible to prevent any injuries or casualties.

“When a SafeDefend box is opened an alarm goes off similar to a Fire Alarm,” said Nash. “This notifies emergency services so they can respond quicker and be at the schools sooner. I hope it will give an extra layer of security for students to know there are measures taken to keep them safe.”

If an active shooter situation does occur, teachers will be asked to take the lead to assure the students’ safety and cooperation. Math Teacher Sara Lily told us how teachers have been trained in drills, trainings, and meetings to prepare themselves for a situation such as this.

“When I started at MSHS last fall I had almost one entire day of new staff training dedicated to school safety and security,” said Lily. “As a new teacher to the district this really made me feel like the administration in USD266 looks out for their staff and students and makes security a priority. At the beginning of this year the MSHS staff and all of USD 266 had extensive training about the Safe Defend system and what to do in the event of an intruder. This was given by an employee of SafeDefend who used to work in law enforcement. This was a half day session and was extremely helpful and informative not only about the system itself, but about intruders in the school building and in general.”

When coming to school, some students worry about how their lives may be put on the line. On the other hand, students like sophomore Brooklyn Cameron are confident that their teachers will be able to keep them safe with the resources and technology they have at hand.

“I mean I’m pretty comfortable with not having to worry now because of the new technology we have,” said Cameron. “I feel that teachers might panic in that situation but I think they will know what to do if the time comes.”

School security has become extremely tight in 2020, with nearly 200 school shootings in the past 10 years. If you were to take a look at around 30 years ago, the safety of students then was vastly different than that of the security measures in our public schools today.  According to English Teacher Wesley Rice, there weren’t any resource officers and there were plenty of unlocked classrooms and buildings across the campus when he was in school.

“School security has changed significantly since I was in high school,” Rice said. “I attended high school in the early ’90s, before the mass shooting at Columbine; that seems to have set off a steadily increasing number of school shootings ever since. We had no school resource officer, and buildings on the open campus were unlocked throughout the school day. Back then it would never have crossed my mind to take extra security precautions. We felt safe in our ignorance.”