Active shooter response training prepares police, staff, students

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The Alhambra Police Department collaborated with the Alhambra Unified School District to administer an active shooter response training in order to prepare for such a situation. First responders from the neighboring cities of San Gabriel, Monterey Park, San Marino, and South Pasadena also participated in the event at Alhambra High School on two separate Saturdays, Sept. 15 and Sept. 22.

During the training, there were four simulations of school shootings. The participants were separated into three groups, each positioned at different areas, such as the hallways and open spaces.

A police officer acted as the shooter, while students, like senior Sylvia Son, acted as injured victims. School staff was debriefed on how they should respond in certain situations.

“We were injured people and we had to scream for help as police officers came, but they wouldn’t help us because they were trying to find the bomb guy,” Son said. “We had to wait and cry for help.”

Although it was a simulation, senior Jordan Phan said it was “scary” because it made him realize how he needed to learn to protect himself.

“Honestly, it’s fake for me, but when I started acting I kind of got in the mindset,” Phan said. “Literally scaring me and shaking. I was getting fed up. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this can actually happen.’”

Office manager Beta Ramirez said that given the recent rise of school shootings across the nation, she wanted to be prepared for dangerous situations.

“My son is a firefighter for the city of Alhambra,” Ramirez said. “He always tells me, ‘Mom, when you walk into a place, look where your exits are in case something happens.’”

Ramirez said that she knew most of the material covered, but there was one scenario that troubled her. In this scenario, students were knocking on the classroom door asking to be let in, but police instructed her to not open the door for anybody.

“How am I going to do it?” Ramirez said. “What if it’s your kid who’s knocking on the door? ‘Mom, let me in.’ That was the hardest one for me to do. What do I do?”

In addition, Principal Debbie Stone said that the training, compared to the past, focused on a different approach.

“It is a little different than we’re used to,” Stone said. “[It] used to be automated. [Now teachers have to] look around their surroundings and respond.”

Stone said that to ensure preparation for school safety, all school administrations were mandated to attend the training. Teachers will be given school safety overviews conducted by the district safety coordinator during period-by-period conferences.

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