PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Call it a sad sign of the times.

In the wake of Columbine and Newtown, school fire drills are being replaced with something called an active shooter or intruder drill.

Now that Franklin Regional dispelled any notion that something like this could never happen here, experts like Upper St. Clair Police Lt. John Sakoian say more local districts have asked for help in becoming prepared.

“The training specializes in active shooter situations or improvised explosive device that can be found in a school, mall or workplace,” Lt. Sakoian said.

Sakoian’s Command Excellence and a similar training organization called ALLERT are now in high demand. They work with school districts and local police in developing coordinated responses to an armed student or intruder.

“We just put the officers under stress, and dispatch, possibly involving an active shooter in the school district,” Lt. Sakoian said.

Sakoian says all situations are different, but they train teachers and administrators the ways to best protect their student and themselves. This is most often achieved by sheltering in place.

“It depends on the circumstance. If a shooter is outside the classroom , behind brick and locked doors is the safest location to be,” Lt. Sakoian said.

The objective most often is to buy time and avoid danger until law enforcement arrives.

“These incident are over in less than five minutes. The quicker law enforcement assets are on the scene, the quicker the incident will be terminated with limited loss. Hopefully, no loss of life,” Lt. Sakoian said.

To ensure the safety of their staff and students, Shaler Area School District has been working with Sakoian. They have been running intruder drills in every school, twice a year.

“Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times and you can never be prepared enough. But, we believe our proactive approach is really going to benefit if an unfortunate event does occur,” Lt. Sakoian said.

Should that unthinkable day ever come, it’s the decision of the school district and now several others to be prepared, rather than wish they had been.


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