Staffers with Missoula County Public Schools will train this weekend on responding to an armed intruder, using methods of distraction and confrontation to minimize casualties.
Hatton Littman, spokeswoman for the district, said MCPS intends to train its 1,200 staff members over the next two years, leading 50 of them through Active Resistance Training each month.
“We’re doing it to make sure we’re proactive and prepared ahead of any potential situations arising,” Littman said Friday. “We have 1,200 staff members in our district, and in order to train all of them, we’ve established a plan to meet once a month on Saturday.”
The School Associated Violent Death Study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 2 percent of all homicides among school-age children happen on school grounds.
One national report cited 44 school shootings resulting in 28 fatalities since the Newtown, Conn., massacre in 2012. Littman said the national trend points to a need for localized training.
“We’re seeing more incidents on school safety and violence,” she said. “While Missoula feels isolated, safe and secure, these issues can happen anywhere. We want to make sure our faculty and staff are trained to keep themselves and students safe.”
Littman said local law enforcement officers need, at a minimum, four minutes to respond to an incident of school violence. The training aims to give staff members the tools and strategies to deal with an armed intruder in the time it takes officers to intervene.
The training will be provided by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department and the Missoula Police Department, she said.
“They’re here providing this training to us free of charge and volunteering their time,” Littman said. “They have a collection of resources for doing this type of training. It’s a great resource to make sure other public agencies are prepared to react.”
The training marks the district’s second push to fulfill the recommendations made by the district’s Public Safety and Facilities Safety and Security Advisory Committee.
Last year, MCPS’ phone systems were upgraded to ensure emergency personnel could trace 9-1-1 calls to the building where the call originated.
“The safety and security of our students is a No.1 priority,” said Alex Apostle, superintendent of MCPS. “We could not possibly train all 1,200 of our employees without this teamwork approach.”
The training kicks off Saturday at 8 a.m. at Meadow Hill Middle School.