Tahoma teachers, staff trained on trauma response

“If you have a Snuggie, use it.”

It was a lighthearted moment that drew laughs from Cedar River Middle School staff during a training session April 18 on providing basic aid to victims of violence.

“The odds of a mass scene of violence happening in this school are slim,” Aaron Tyerman, chief of operations for King County Medic One, told the staff. “But, we know it does happen.”

The training focused on what school staff should expect in a law enforcement response to an incident at a school, and on what the staff can do to help anyone who is injured in such an event.

Members of law enforcement and first responders from various agencies were on hand for the training, which included a large group session and breakout groups.

Tyerman talked about changes first responders have made since the shooting at Columbine High School. The main idea, Tyerman said, is that law enforcement first responders aren’t waiting when they arrive at a scene. Instead, they will enter the school to stop the event as quickly as possible.

He also underscored the importance of preparing and practicing a school’s response to violence.

To drive the point home, Tyerman cited the number of deaths in school related fires in the last 55 years: zero. And, yet, three times a year schools are required to do fire drills. Many schools do more drills than that.

“If you think about it, I can think of nothing scarier than being in a burning building,” Tyerman said.

By comparison, he cited data that 545 people have been injured or killed in school related shootings in the United States since 1990. When staff were asked how many of them had been part of an active shooter drill, only a smattering of hands went up across the group.

The most effective things school staff can do in an incident of violence, Tyerman said, are to know the school’s lockdown procedures, know what they can do to help control bleeding, how to do a rapid trauma assessment, how to place a victim in a recovery position to keep their airway open, how to notify first responders of injuries, keeping a victim warm and knowing what resources they have at their disposal.

In the breakout groups, staff members learned ways to stop bleeding, including tips for bandaging wounds, applying a tourniquet, moving a patient and conducting a rapid trauma assessment.

Cedar River was the last Tahoma school to go through the training this year.

“This was a really positive experience in light of the content of the topic,” Cedar River Vice Principal Robert Talbert wrote in an email interview.

Tahoma High teacher Clare Nance said that she was impressed by how seriously the first responders took the training and she was surprised by some of the things she learned

“It was eye-opening to actually try to carry or drag another person,” Nance wrote in an email. “It’s amazing how heavy a body is!”

This training came about because of the district’s relationship with first responders through the active shooter drill that is conducted every fall at Tahoma Junior High. Rob Morrow, principal at Tahoma Junior High and the district’s next superintendent, said he was approached by Tyerman about doing the training at the junior high last summer.

“The response was so positive we made the decision to train every staff member in the district,” Morrow wrote in an email.

Tyerman added in an email that Tahoma is one of the first districts in the country to put their entire staff through this kind of training and that they are working to spread it to other districts across the country. Members of the training team have presented at a national conference in Florida and to various groups in Washington D.C., including the FBI, Homeland Security and officials from the vice president’s office.

During the course, the training team also noted that the skills being taught can apply to situations in the world outside the classroom.

Ultimately, the goal was to make sure school staff have the basic skills to give aid in an emergency.

“You guys are going home at the end of the day,” Tyerman told the staff at Cedar River. “End of story.”


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