FLINT TWP. — Gunshots echoing through the hallways at Carman-Ainsworth High School recently tested the theory of how staff would respond to an armed and angry student, parent or other intruder.
The realistic shooting was part of Active Shooter Training held on a professional development day when no students were in school.
Active Shooter Training is not new, especially for secondary school buildings, said Steve Tunnicliff, C-A assistant superintendent. He called it a proactive measure to mitigate the potential for a terrible crisis.
“There have not been any guns found (in the school) or disciplinary situations that caused us to consider this training,” he said. “We will be gaining feedback from the high school administration and staff regarding the training to determine whether future training for all staff will be provided.”
“We had been talking about it for two or three months,” said Rory Mattar, high school principal, who worked closely with school resource officer Steve Parker to set up the training. Parker was the liaison between the school and the Flint Township Police Department.
The training is run by Jay Snodgrass from the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office, Mattar said. It’s been done in several other school districts.
But it was the first time the training took place at CA high school and involved all teachers and secretarial staff.
The day started in the auditorium where they watched a presentation that included statistics on shooters in buildings, historical information about school shootings and details about how the training would proceed.
“We all went about our business and were working when the scenario started,” Mattar said.
In a simulation, a couple of officers acting as intruders fired blanks in the hallway.
“It was pretty intense once you heard the shots being fired in the hallway,” Mattar said.
He had some idea what to expect having met with Snodgrass and some of the officers prior to the training. But for the rest of his staff it was a crash course.
“The blanks were awfully loud,” Mattar said. “The time we were in lockdown only lasted 17 or 18 minutes but it felt like an hour.” During that time, no one had any idea what was going down.
“I think we gained some information from it,” Mattar said. “We saw some things we did pretty well and some things that need addressing.”
CAHS has its own process in place in case something like this ever happens, Mattar said.
“What they (training officers) did was test our process to see how effective or ineffective it was.”
In the debriefing that followed, the staff asked questions that Mattar declined to share because he said they could be answered 100 different ways.
“Everybody is looking for the foolproof answer to ‘how will we handle this or that’ but you can’t cover every situation that could happen in a school building” Mattar said. “You just have to be as prepared as you can.”
Feedback from the majority of the staff was very positive, he said.
“It made some realize things about security that they had not realized before. I think we will be much better off because of it.”