Through these drills, MVHS hopes to avoid what happened on Feb. 14 to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when a shooter opened fire on the school after pulling a fire alarm. As he fired, he watched the fearful students run out. Their school resource officer was caught on video not responding to the sounds of gunshots.
Chao states that the school resource officer at the scene may have followed their policies and waited for his partner to arrive at the scene before going in to find the shooter. According to Chao, studies have proven that when a shooter is confronted by law enforcement, they either go down shooting or they end their own lives.
“Our policy was very similar to that — but it's changed where we are going to go in by ourselves and engage the shooter so that way he'll stop,” Chao said. “The faster we can engage them, the faster we can stop the shooting, [so] we go in automatically — we don't wait.”
To prevent future incidents like this, Chao reminds the MVHS community that in the case of an unplanned accident, such as a fire alarm going off unexpectedly, students should remain calm. As for teachers, they should open the door, check their surroundings to see if there’s any sign of fire and in case of a fire, calmly follow the teacher’s guide as they exit their classrooms.
“There's no reason to run, unless [the fire is] right there on you. So I tell them, ‘Open the door, pop your head out, look left [and] right’ because it could've been a rouse,” Chao said. “If they come out and see somebody with a gun or you hear gunfire, then get back in and lockdown.”
In the case of an emergency occurring when the majority of students are outside their classrooms, students should listen to where the gunfire is coming from and run the opposite way to safety or seek shelter in a classroom within a close proximity.
“That's why we have three steps, you're going to run first and if you can't run, you're going to hide,” Chao said. “If you're hiding and the guy gets into the room, then you're going to have to defend yourself. So that's why we do the run, hide and defend.”
After the drill on Tuesday, many students came out feeling as if though the drill was a waste of time, as they could’ve been studying for later tests or catching up on homework. Rose believes that though it may have been a bit time-consuming, it was definitely a practice that needed to be done as it could possibly save students’ lives.
“I think teachers take it seriously because we know we’re ultimately responsible for students in any kind of emergency [but] I don’t know if students always take it seriously,” Rose said. “Yes, these are bothersome and yes, they cut into tutorial, and none of us like to think that that’s something that would actually happen, but as with any emergency it’s better to be prepared than not.”
Out of the many classrooms on campus, there were a few classrooms personally checked by the school resource officers. Senior Sophia Liu was patiently waiting for the “all clear” call when an officer knocked on her classroom’s door, checked the locks and the internal barricades. Though Liu believes that the drill is a bit time-consuming, she understands that the practice prepares her in case of a real emergency.
“When our classroom was checked and when the officers walked in they seemed pleased with our barricade,” Liu said. “But they were also satisfied with our teacher’s preparedness since she was holding onto a fire hydrant ready to attack in case of an intruder.”
However, other students felt it was a waste of time as not every classroom was checked. Chao says this kind of practice is very important, as it instills a muscle memory within the students. In the case of an actual emergency, where people are stressed and overwhelmed, they can rely on this muscle memory to protect themselves.
“I believe in practice because when you get tired or when you get stressed out, you don't think, [and when] there's so much going on, it just comes back to your muscle memory,” Chao said. “That's why police officers too, we train all the time, [because] there's a lot of times when we're in stressful situations and we just come back to our training, so that's why we train a lot and that's why we have you guys train.”