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Carlsbad teachers provide leadership in shooting crisis LEFT: First-grader Haley is comforted by trained therapy dog Anise from Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Re- sponse. down routine — run to the first open room at the first sign of trouble — many times. We are so thankful the chil- dren and our staff knew ex- actly what to do.” The Car lsbad Unified Teachers Association quickly initiated a series of associa- tion-coordinated responses to the crisis led by President Sally Estep. “I didn’t wait for the district else is more important than fear,” reads a banner in front of Kelly Elementary School’s now placid student playground. The quote reminds the C “ school’s more than 500 stu- dents and their families, the 30 staff members who work at Kelly, and the nearby neigh- bors in Carlsbad, located in north San Diego County, of how their normal routines were interrupted by sounds of gunfire on the school’s play- ground at 12:10 p.m., Friday, Oct. 8. But it’s more than just a reminder of the traumatic event; it’s also an affirmation of the courageous response. When a gunman police later identified as Oceanside resi- dent Brendan O’Rourke, age 41, jumped the fence and began ourage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something firing pistol shots into the play- ground filled with the school’s students in grades 1-3 and their te acher s and aides , the response was courageous, re- solved and disciplined, instead of panicked and chaotic. While three construction workers who had been laying tile for the school’s cafeteria renovation tackled the lone shooter, the students and staff immediately put the school’s well-honed emergency plan into swift action. Within three minutes of the first shot, all students and staff — including two-second grade girls who had both been wounded in their right arms — were safely locked down out of harm’s way. In another five minutes, police and other first responders were on the scene, arresting the gunman and securing the campus. The injured students, 28 California Educator | DECEMBER 2010 • JANUARY 2011 whose wounds were not life- threatening, were promptly transported by helicopter to a children’s hospital in San Di- ego. Within hours, the stu- dents were reunited with their anxious parents, and the school’s staff were debriefed and allowed to go home. California law requires schools to have s afety plans , and the staff and parent volunteers at Kel- ly take the re- quirement seri- ously, practicing their earthquake, fire and lockdown drills religiously. “You can’t allow the drills to be- come an inconvenience,” says Principal Tessie Armstrong. “We had practiced the lock- to call me,” says Estep. “I called them, saying that we wanted to help. I knew that the district’s crisis plan resources and com- munity support would be in play, but on behalf of CUTA and the California Teachers As- sociation, we wanted to antici- pate and fill in any gaps.” At a districtwide crisis meet- Taryn Webb, Carlsbad Unified Teachers Association ing held to lay out an ongoing response plan, Estep learned from trauma counselors with the Trauma Intervention Pro- gram that it was imperative that the students and the staff be integrated as quickly as pos- sible back into t h e i r n o rma l school environ- ment. The big question, though, was how best to fa- cilitate the return to their school rou- tine without forc- ing them back into the scene of the trauma too quickly. After hearing about the CTA photo by Kim Kelly

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