Illinois police train teachers to 'Run, Hide, Fight' in case of gunman

by Kelly Ledbetter, |
Students use the library at a Barrington School District 220 school. | SHOT

BARRINGTON, Ill. (Christian Examiner) – Police recently held an interactive training at a surburban Chicago area middle school campus where over 1,100 students are enrolled, to instruct teachers and staff in appropriate reactions in the case of a gunman on campus.

Led by Barrington Police Chief Dave Dorn, the after-school training at Barrington's Station Middle School required adaptation for a school setting, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"These presentations are more geared for the workplace, where people are not responsible for students," Dorn said.

The program, called Run. Hide. Fight. was developed in Houston to train adults in business settings how to respond to and survive an active shooter event and has been promoted on the FBI and Homeland Security websites.

"The schools don't like the idea of their teachers having to make that type of critical decision under that kind of stress, and they think it's safer to have a straight lockdown and evacuation plan," said Scott Nadenoff, Cary deputy police chief.

But Brian Harris, superintendent of Barrington school district 220, supports all of the aspects of the training—even seeing its merit for students, too.

"The age of the kids must play into this," Harris acknowledged. "But I think that 'fight,' the third option, is something we can talk about with older kids, even if it means telling them they can throw erasers to distract an intruder, it's all about getting more time for the police."

Dorn concurred with the superintendent's opinion about the appropriateness of student training. "If you feel like you want to get kids involved for their safety, that's your choice," said the police chief.

"But remember, they are going to revert back to their training, which in situations like the NIU shooting, the students didn't fight back because they had never been told it was a viable option, and they were college kids," Dorn said.

While the Run. Hide. Fight. response is very appropriate for adults whose instincts might be to keep students in classrooms, the training may not be appropriate for the students themselves.

Age is an important factor, as is parental consent. But some upper teens might be able to save themselves by following at least the first two steps of the training.


The principles are basic enough to remember during an emergency.

- Run out of harm's way, leaving your belongings, whether other people go with you or not. When you are safe, call 9-1-1.

- If you cannot run, hide out of sight by locking or blocking the door and remembering to silence your phone. Use large objects to protect yourself.

- If you cannot run or hide and if your life is at stake, fight alone or in concert with improvised weapons in an attempt to incapacitate the shooter.

The goal of the training is to teach people three options to help them avoid becoming victims and to facilitate law enforcement response.

No action has yet been taken on the part of the Barrington school district to implement student training, although volunteer teachers and staff will participate in an interactive session with a mock shooter this November when no students are present.

Barrington's Station Middle School applied technology teacher Brandon Duke said he was unsure whether even high schoolers would react well to the training.

"Some students might not be mentally or emotionally able to handle a drill like that," Duke added. "It will be up to the administration as to what level this training should begin, and they'll need to hear the opinions and thoughts of the district's parents before they decide what's best for our students."

In early September, police arrested a former Barrington high school student who threatened via social media to do violence at his school.

"The threats were determined to be not credible," Dorn reported. "[But] this is exactly what we're training for, what he potentially wanted to do at the high school," said the police chief.


One of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history occurred in 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado which is Denver suburb where there are 1700 students enrolled. Two students shots and killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 23 others before they committed suicide.

In 2007 a student shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, before committing suicide. Because of federal privacy laws, Virginia Tech said at the time they were unaware the student had been previously diagnosed with a mental disorder and had received therapy. He had been allowed to purchase guns in a loophol that has reportedly been since closed.

The deadliest mass shooting at a grade school was at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut -- when a 20-year-old from outside of the school entered and fatally shot 20 children and six staff members. He committed suicide. That year 456 were enrolled at the school which is 60 miles outside of New York City.