Laguna Rescue 2008

“Officers from agencies across the Sacramento region came to Laguna Creek High School on March 19 with little idea of what was waiting for them.”

The Elk Grove Unified School District recently hosted a central valley rescue drill at Laguna Creek High School.  Termed “Laguna Rescue 2008,” the Elk Grove Police department and other public safety agencies in the area recognize the imminent threat of an active school shooting.  Taking 700 volunteers, lasting 5 hours and multiple agencies including: including the Sacramento Regional Office of Homeland Security, Elk Grove Police Department, Elk Grove Unified School District, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and Galt, West Sacramento, Folsom and Citrus Heights police departments and local fire departments and hospitals, the attempt to control a crisis situation will be evaluated.  I was hoping to give a good summary of what happened on campus and regret that I was unavailable to volunteer.  However, I am anticipating a written report that will be available in the next 6-8 weeks. Having little information at hand, I can only discuss what I hope the report will include.

According to the Sacramento Bee and Elk Grove citizen articles, I believe that the exercise involved three key goals:  Rapid response and efficient dispatch of local resources, simultaneous evacuation of students and elimination of threat, and management of traffic and the public.  I doubt that prevention will be discussed seriously, such as revamping psychological services, education’s approach on zero tolerance, and radically – discussion of voluntarily armed teachers and administrative body.  Given that Laguna Rescue 2008 was more of a practical exercise for a real crisis, I don’t anticipate the report discussing full-time School Resource Officers (SRO) either.

School shootings are argued to be statistical anomalies (which I agree with); such behavior is often difficult to predict.  What we call “warning signs” seem relevant:  anti-social behavior, narcissism, excessive practicing of firearms, and fascination with violence in films and TV (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1205252.stm).  However, one must understand that many of these “signs” are placed too broadly to make any discriminate course of action without having a high percentage of false-hits.  Do we suspend every student who enjoys the violent movies like 300?  How about the narcissistic behavior that the education system promoted in order to ensure that children aren’t “sad” and avoid learning what it means to fail?  If you’re visiting my blog, you’re likely to know why I balk at the idea of “excessive practicing of firearms.”

To be fair, I’ll just have to assume that everything was done in order to prevent such a crisis.  After all, no use in thinking that it will never happen.

Response to a crisis is measured in seconds – not minutes.  It shouldn’t be any different from an active home invasion, but the resources for a police state are not available or desired.  At least within the privacy of the home, we are entitled the right to keep and bear arms.  On school campuses, students and teachers are at the mercy of local police and emergency medical technicians – SROs if the county/city can afford it.  So outside of spending extra tax dollars for on site security, what can we do to prepare teachers and students for what Chris Trim says as inevitable?  Are teachers trained in first aid (at minimum) and prepared to stop artery bleeding?  Is society at large teaching students to obey a mentally unstable killer’s orders?  Are college students not prepared to ensure their own safety?  Fight back and avoid the line up for goodness sake!
Though my knowledge is limited, it is my understanding that police officers depend on EMT to take care of them if they’re shot.  If officers are nonchalant about their own safety and not taking it upon themselves to learn how to treat such wounds, under what circumstances will they suddenly know how to treat a civilian?  I’m curious if treating injuries on site was part of the training or simply emphasized on evacuating the selected students who could not make it on their own.  What will happen if an officer is injured and help is limited – is their safety a concern of the unarmed EMT or is the officer responsible for themselves and their fellow camaraderie?

It would be interesting to find out how many teachers were required to participate in the exercise.  Albeit, the emergency responders are the main facilitators, but what do teachers and administration do before they arrive?  Beyond locking down the campus, what else is there to do?  Do they have a responsibility to ensure the injured are treated – or is it beyond the scope of general liability?

The elimination of a threat – how does one confirm the number of shooters within a short period of time?  I’m certain immediate interviews of students would be necessary and has likely been done.  Is that even a priority?  Should our geographical LEA be aware of possible armed citizens?  At the colligate level, will the LEA anticipate armed students?  I know… I’m in California, but it’s a question worth asking nonetheless.

How about concerned parents and the traffic that will ensue?  One classmate, who did get the opportunity to participate, said it was “chaotic.” A level of chaos is to be expected, but I wonder at what level were the LEA in control.  They did block off the traffic surrounding the school.  Was traffic emulated?  I’m curious how limited the media was.

As a concerned citizen, I think many of these questions are reasonable.  I would like to know what the department is up to – and so should you.  I would encourage anyone to assess these exercises and understand their purpose.  I eagerly wait for the written evaluation and hope that it will address these questions.

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