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Spearfish teachers receive active shooter training

October 7, 2018

SPEARFISH — Shots rang out in Spearfish schools Wednesday but school staff and police were expecting them, as staff members conducted an active shooter tabletop exercise.

The shots didn’t sound like fire crackers or books dropping on the floor, as some people involved in real school shootings – rather they were distinctive, sharp reports of a gun.

“(The training) served the purpose for what we were looking to do, and that was to familiarize the teachers of what gunfire in the school sounds like,” said Kirk Easton, superintendent of the Spearfish School District.

Prior to the training, staff gathered to discuss what they were to do in the event of an actual active shooter.

Then they returned to their classrooms and listened.

“It depends on where you’re at in the building, you’re not always going to hear gunfire,” Easton said.

The training also gave staff and police insight into the notification times and procedures from the new panic buttons.

During the training, police officers fired several shots from a pistol loaded with blanks in a variety of locations throughout the schools. This gave staff members an idea of what gunshots sound like from different distances. Staff members also hit a panic button that sounded an automated message in the school “Attention everyone, an emergency has been reported. …”

The system alerts law enforcement and appropriate staff members to the incident. The exact time it takes is not being disclosed for security reasons.

However, Easton said, they learned that the intercom system was not loud enough.

“If you would have had kids in the room you may not have heard it,” he said. “We’re going to have to work on that.”

Following the gunshots, the staff gathered once more and discussed what they heard.

“What do we need to do different? What are we not considering?” Eason said.

The district, he said, has a reunification policy, but it has not been practiced in several years. He intends to rectify that and conduct a practice drill that may involve parents.

“If there is a gas leak, or a bomb threat, we’re going to all leave together,” he said. “But if there is an active shooter we may have staff and their kids going out of the building in multiple directions out of harms way. Where do we go? How do we get there? … And what type materials and resources do we bring with us? Of course we will have class rosters, but do we bring laptops with us? … We have a plan, we just need to try it. It looks good on paper, but what about in practice.”

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