LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s the scanner traffic no one ever wants to hear: an active shooter is in a school, followed by “This is not a drill.”
That’s the scene that unfolded at Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13, 2013. That shooter, Karl Pierson, 18, fatally shot Claire Davis, 17, before shooting and killing himself.
Like school districts around the country, it was a scenario for which Littleton Public Schools had planned and practiced.
The American Red Cross is honoring the district for being prepared, but the district is in the middle of an investigation and will not discuss the specific incident.
The head of security and safety, Guy Grace, did sit down with CBS4 to talk about how the district constantly prepares for all sorts of disasters, from shootings to weather events.
In 2008 Grace found the Red Cross Ready Rating Program while trying to set up a CPR and First Aid training program for the district.
“The Red Cross will reach out to you,” Grace said, “creating a comprehensive program. We took the Ready Rating Program and used it as a guide post.”
Because the district signed up for the program and earned the Ready Rating, the Red Cross gave it a grant to buy 35 automated external defibrillators (or AEDs).
The district also uses the Red Cross program to teach those CPR and first aid classes.
Each school in the district has an incident command team. That group takes charge of any problems at the school and all of them are trained in CPR, first aid and how to use the AEDs.
Grace said having that training helps every day with even minor accidents that happen at schools, such as a child falling off playground equipment.
“Just having that ability for our employees is so important. It makes them feel safe, it makes them feel secure because they know how to respond,” he said.
The Ready Rating is not the only program Littleton Public Schools uses to prepare. It also relies on the Safe2Tell program which allows people to anonymously report threats to schools and students.
Grace said the program is integral to creating a safe and secure environment.
“We take it quite seriously. We respond appropriately and rapidly to that information, 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Grace credits Safe2Tell with preventing tragedies, especially students who are suicidal.
He said the job of keeping kids safe at school has changed from the days when he first started in 1989, but he hopes he has evolved to meet the challenges posed by news events and social media.
Grace also said also being more aware of mental health is also key for security personnel.
He said he is proud of how his district has responded to the changes and he knows being prepared has saved lives.