DENVER (CBS4) – The tragedy in Connecticut has brought up many questions about security at schools and what to do if a killer is inside. The father of a teenager shot to death at a school in Colorado is now heavily involved in keeping other children safe.
The actions of “lock out, lock down, evacuate and shelter” is now language for students and staff when a crisis happens in schools. It’s used in some of the largest school districts in Colorado and in more than 5,000 districts nationwide.
“Our hearts go out to those folks impacted,” said John Michael Keyes, Executive Director of the I Luv U Guys Foundation.
Keyes can understand the pain that so many families from Sandy Hook Elementary are feeling because he lives it.
“Emily’s last text message was, ‘I luv you guys,’ ” he said.
From that text message his foundation was created in memory of his daughter, Emily. The 16-year-old was among a group of girls held hostage inside Platte Canyon High School in 2006. Emily was shot by the gunman.
Keyes says he’s learned that people don’t choose tragedy, but they can choose their response.
“When we looked at school safety, what we saw was that there wasn’t a common language or expectation of behavior during a crisis between students, staff and first responders,” he said.
The “Standard Response Protocol” was born. It’s now used in 15 states.
“We’ve got four actions — lock out, lock down, evacuate and shelter. Those four can be used in a crisis as a life saving mechanism,” Keyes said.
Students, staff and police are trained on what to do when a crisis happens, even before officers arrive.
“It opens up wounds that you thought were healed,” Sgt. A.J. DeAndrea with Arvada police said.
DeAndrea was one of the first officers inside Platte Canyon High School, Columbine, and the Youth with a Mission church shootings. He now travels with Emily’s father across the country teaching the school safety program together.
” It came from a conversation we had with him up at his house shortly after the Platte Canyon incident happened, and I made him a promise that the loss of his daughter’s life would not go in vain,” DeAndrea said.
“We give our kids multiple survival strategies of what to do in case of fire; we don’t necessarily talk about what to do when they’re under fire. That’s part of the conversation,” Keyes said.
Keyes says school shootings are still anomalies. He says we don’t hear about the ones that have been stopped and will continue to be stopped with resources like his foundation.
Those who would like a free copy of the safety program should visit the I Luv You Guys Foundation website.