An AR-15 rifle found at the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012. The shooting killed 20 children and six teachers.
The U.S. Army and the Department of Homeland Security has created a computer-based simulator that trains teachers on how best to respond in an active shooter situation.
The $5.6 million program called the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, is similar to those used by the Army, in which a virtual environment helps in the training of soldiers in the fight against the strategy and scenarios.
The program is expanding to schools, to teachers and other staff of the school to train for active shooters in addition to the first responders. Homeland Security officials said that the school version should be ready for launch by the spring.
“With the teachers, they do not self-select into a role where they expect the bullets flying near them,” said Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for the project. “Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more a reality. We want to teach teachers how to react as first responders.”
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Bob Walker, the project manager, said that the program is designed to be a teacher in a situation that is similar to an active-shooter scenario.
Each teacher receives seven options on how your students a safe, and a number of in the program can not respond or are too afraid to respond. That is still a problem to be solved.
“When you hear the children, the screaming, it makes it very, very real,” Walker said.
The program can the shooter is an adult or a child.
“We have to worry about both children and adults who are suspects,” he said.
The designers of the program listened to the real uk bands of shootings at schools, and spoke with a mother of a child killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That shooting left 20 children and six teachers dead after gunman Adam Lanza opened fire in the school.
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“It gives you chills when you think about what happens on those tires,” said Griffith. “It pulled us out of each other to listen to her and what she went through.”
The purpose of EDGE was to serve but one purpose: to train teachers to save lives from an armed attacker busts through a school door, weapons at the ready.
School safety proponents say that a safety-training gets pushed to the back burner until a tragedy happens. Amanda Klinger, director of operations for the non-profit teachers of the School, the Security of the Network, said this new program could help change.
“I hope that people see this simulation as a really fun and engaging way,” said she, “to think about school safety.”
Everytown reported that there are 271 school shootings in the US since 2013.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.