CANASTOTA, N.Y. — School transportation staff here recently took part in a hands-on active shooter training conducted by school safety and security company Armoured One.
Cynthia Clark, the transportation supervisor for Canastota Central School District, told School Bus Fleet that she first came across the Armoured One training program when she attended the New York Association for Pupil Transportation Conference in Albany, New York, in July.
“They [NYAPT] had a session there,” Clark said. “I took down the name, and that’s when I began my little investigation to see what they had to offer.”
Armoured One provides products, trainings, assessments, and preparedness plans to help school administration and transportation staff be proactive against major attacks and shootings, according to the company’s website.
The training event took place on Oct. 19, and was held for 37 of the district’s transportation staff, which consisted of office clerks, drivers, and bus attendants.
Armoured One representatives discussed in a presentation during the three-hour training how to respond to active shooters and what warning signs to look for in students. They also showed videos of previous mock active shooter incidents.
After the presentation, the transportation staff and the Armoured One representatives headed out on one of the district's buses and drove to a vacant roadway to conduct the hands-on portion of the training.
“The hands-on aspect was phenomenal,” Clark said. “They actually brought replicas of guns and tennis balls to show us that if somebody has a gun [on the bus], they showed us what we can do and use to distract that person.”
The intent with the tennis balls, Clark said, was to show how students on board the bus could throw objects, such as water bottles or backpacks, at the active shooter to distract them.
Armoured One also offered the transportation staff vehicle operation and control techniques for instances in which an active shooter is present while the bus is in motion.
“It’s very enlightening because you wouldn’t think that the driving techniques would help,” Clark said, "[but] I had a couple of people getting nauseated because of the maneuvers we did to distract [the active shooter] on the bus.”
A week after the training, Clark and her transportation staff held a meeting to discuss the pros and cons of the training process. Clark said that she felt like the training was “well-executed,” and that her staff felt more capable of responding to “high-stress” active shooter incidents.
Canastota Central School District currently transports about 600 to 750 students daily to three district buildings, and Clark said student safety is the district’s number-one priority.
“We’re always preparing, always thinking outside of the box for training,” she said. “You want to take it one step further and keep yourself abreast of different techniques.”