Mr. Salyers addresses the decision that an armed teacher must make during an attack. Do I stay with my children or do I leave to find the shooter? The FASTER training addresses that very question. It is a decision that only the teacher can make and cannot be set in policy. We train them to think about that decision now before they have to make it.
Mr. Salyers also comments that the teacher accesses her firearm from a “secure safe that can only be opened by her fingerprint.” While this may be desirable if the safe is in the teacher’s classroom, it becomes a remote firearm storage device when the teacher leaves the room for any reason. We have shown that the practice of remote storage of the defensive firearm can lead to increased victims because it increases the time to bring the defensive firearm to bear on the problem. I see this as no different from having a police officer store his sidearm in the cruiser until he needs it.
Another complaint about armed school staff is that law enforcement will not know who the attacker is when they arrive. FASTER trains the armed staff in how to interact with law enforcement. Above all, they are trained to “do exactly what the responding officers tell them to do.”
When the armed staff complete training, they must pass a shooting qualification. FASTER students shoot a 28-round qualification from four to 50 feet and must get 26 hits on target. This is a higher standard than we hold Ohio police to.
Finally, FASTER trains the armed staff how to treat the wounded once the attack is over. This way when the professionals show up you have live patients instead of victims to transfer to them.
We have nearly doubled this year’s number of FASTER classes and still the demand is overwhelming. If you add school resource officers, the ALICE program (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evade) and an armed school staff to all the other layers of protection, then you have the makings of a robust safety and security plan.
Gary Hoff, of Middletown, is an instructor in the Ohio armed school staff program.