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School Staff Learn How To Handle A Shooting

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Sandy Hook Elementary School

A memorial was held at a staging area for families following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

sandramcneill Sandra McNeill
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Sandra McNeill...
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BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) The first victims of the vicious Sandy Hook school slaughter weren’t students — they were staff members, who rushed into the hallway to tackle the shooter.

And when a group of about 100 Oakland County principals and school administrators had a two-hour lesson Thursday on what to do in the event of a school shooting, Birmingham Seaholm High School Principal Dee Lancaster had a hard time with one piece of advice — to protect herself first.

“We were doing exactly what the principal in Sandy Hook did, go into the hall to see exactly what was happening, our first reaction is not to protect ourselves, it’s to protect everyone else,” Lancaster said.

The seminar was presented by the county’s office of Homeland Security and Sheriffs Departments to prepare local administrators to keep their student  body as safe as possible. The school workers were shown a video with a simulated shooting situation.

“I think the most important thing that I learned is that we have to over-prepare and over-communicate with our students and staff, even though we hope to God it doesn’t happen and we don’t plan on it happening,” said Tom Shelton, principal of West Bloomfield High School.

The lesson: Run if a shooter enters the building, hide behind something bulletproof, and fight only as a last option.

The most controversial piece of advice was to lock the classroom doors and leave them locked, even if a student is standing outside the door pleading for help.

“You know it’s hard to sacrifice the safety of that larger group of students in order to save one,” Shelton said.

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