The U.S. Army and the Department of Homeland Security are training teachers on how best to react to an active-shooter situation by funding and implementing a $5.6 million computer-based simulator program.
The Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE is similar to those used by the Army, in which a virtual environment trains soldiers in facilitated combat tactics. Homeland Security officials revealed this week that a school version for teachers and other school personnel will be ready for launch by spring.
Bob Walker, the project manager, said the program was designed to put a teacher in a situation similar to an active-shooter scenario. “Once you hear the children, the screaming, it makes it very, very real,” Walker said of the virtual program.
“With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them,” said Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for the project. “Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality. We want to teach teachers how to respond as first responders.”
Each teacher will be provided seven options on how to keep students safe, and some in the program might not respond or be too afraid to react. That will become another problem to be solved. The program also can have the shooter take the role of either an adult or a child.
“We have to worry about both children and adults being suspects,” Walker added.
The goal of EDGE is simple: to train educators to save lives when an armed attacker invades the school.
“I hope that people will sort of see this simulation as a really cool and engaging way to think about school safety,” said Amanda Klinger, director of operations for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network.
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