Teachers train to face school shooters

Instructors say guides on how to hide, run or fight should be mandatory for teachers

CNN News Wire | 9/30/2013, 2:36 p.m.
It is a Saturday in Lake Mary, Florida and Zach Hudson and his partner Mike Friedman, Defensive Tactics Solutions, are conducting a free "Active Shooter Self Defense Workshop" for teachers and school staff. CNN

The sound of metal hitting the floor echoed through the hallways of the childless elementary school. It was an empty clip from a gun, fallen to the ground.

“That sound should be imprinted in your brain,” Zach Hudson, co-founder of Defensive Tactics Solutions, told the educators in the audience. “That is the sound of survival. That is the sound of opportunity.”

That, Hudson said, is the best time to attack a shooter if one enters the school or classroom.

On a recent Saturday in Lake Mary, Florida, Hudson and his partner, Mike Friedman, conducted a free active shooter self-defense workshop for teachers and school staff members.

Since the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, last year, school security plans have included arming teachers, adding police officers and armed security guards, changing how schools are designed and adding bulletproof backpacks and whiteboards to schools.

In the new school year, some educators are taking it upon themselves to be prepared for the unthinkable.

The self-defense trainers, both parents, believe that workshops like this one should be mandatory for educators.

“You got to make sure you get those fire drills in every year,” said Hudson, who was a CNN Hero in 2012 for his work with senior citizens. “Fire drills are important, don’t get me wrong, but guess what, kids aren’t dying in fires. They’re dying because they are being shot. That’s the truth, and that’s the threat.”

They passed out a pocket-sized active shooter reference guide published by the FBI (PDF) that says people have three options when an active shooter enters a location: run, hide or fight.

“Fight as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger,” it says.

This course offered guidance on how to escape or take cover but focused most of its four hours on how to fight and disarm an attacker — something few educators have ever considered how to do.

“It’s very sad that we have to go through this kind of training to know how to protect our kids,” said Marsha Taylor, a teacher of 25 years who works with young children.

The protection exercises started with a fake gun pointed at the educators. “It takes the fear out of it,” Hudson said.

Participants were taught how to grab the barrel and point it away while holding the slide so the handgun cannot fire. Parts of the workshop were similar to a self-defense classes, where participants learned how and where to hit and the best position to stand when approaching an attacker.

“You have eight weapons,” Friedman told the class. “Two hands, two elbows, two knees, two feet.”

The educators of all ages practiced how to use those body parts on pads held by the instructors; they were encouraged to make every strike fueled with aggression and anger.

“We don’t need to be armed with a weapon — a gun per se,” said Frank Taylor, a day-care owner who took the class. “But if we have knowledge of how to use our bodies and our surroundings, than that in itself is the best form of arming ourselves.”