PV Students Learn to Run, Hide, Fight

Seren Cho and Alexa Stevens

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This year, PVHS is to implement a new protocol in the event of an on-campus school shooter. The policy, established by the Department of Homeland Security, is called Run, Hide, Fight (RHF), and was adopted by the School Site Council on February 5th of this calendar year. Prior to the implementation, concerns had been raised regarding campus preparedness for such an event. With the new program, students would be encouraged to leave campus as a primary safety measure, followed by hiding, followed by distracting or fighting the threat.

This program was laid out originally in a presentation to each grade level by Chief Velez at the start of the school year. On November 15th, to further provide details about the protocol, students watched a video and discussed a PowerPoint on the subject in their second period classes. Teachers addressed the reality that students are attempting to visualize their own actions in the event of a security threat, and attempted to alleviate fears through discussing the course of action the class would take in several circumstances.

Students throughout the district in grades four through twelve were provided a presentation of this sort, modified for appropriateness to each age group. Younger groups, for example, were taught a Run, Hide, Distract protocol. Elementary and middle schoolers were given presentations which traded the word “shooter” for “bad person,” and emphasized family conversation on individual course of action.

On the district-wide presentations, senior Austin Ota says, “I feel like it would be better if we had a school-wide assembly rather than just one discussion on it just because it’s been an event that’s happening a lot more recently.” Due to the relevancy of this issue—particularly with the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting having occurred a week prior to the presentations—students such as Ota have fears.

On the Borderline shooting, Lorraine Loh-Norris speaks to a personal connection: her daughter’s best friend, a student at Pepperdine University, survived the event. “As soon as the shooting started, she just ran out of there. She didn’t bother going back to try to find [her cell phone], she just ran,” Loh-Norris said.

This action exemplifies the new RHF policy, as running away from danger is to be the primary protocol. Further embodying the recommended student action, Loh-Norris spoke to the Pepperdine student’s decision to take refuge in a nearby home to call her parents to inform them of her safety.

In regards to the “run” component of the program, there are two main streets which provide escape routes on campus. “The idea of running focuses on saving the most amount of people,” said Associate Principal Keely Hafer.

In the case of an active shooter on campus, students are recommended to run only if it is safe to do so. If running is deemed to increase one’s risk of injury, high school students are instructed to hide.

The presentation instructs students who hide to lock the door, fortify entryways, cover windows, turn off lights and cell phones, and stay quietly on the floor. If a student finds him or herself outdoors in this event, the presentation recommends hiding behind a wall, building, or tree.

According to an official document published by PVPUSD on RHF, the final step of fighting may be conducted in the following ways: trying to immobilize the shooter, acting “with physical aggression toward the shooter,” throwing nearby heavy objects at the shooter, or alerting law enforcement. The highschool-level presentations characterized fighting as a personal choice and a last resort.

Ota explains his qualms as to this component of the protocol: “I feel like they don’t really prepare us… They don’t give the teachers supplies to fight, they don’t tell us where to run, how to hide. We haven’t really had any practice drills either, so I feel like if there were a shooter event, everybody would forget about Run, Hide, Fight, and panic.”

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PV Students Learn to Run, Hide, Fight