Active Response in a SchoolWhen asked whether I would prefer to drive to my destination (within my country of residence) or fly, I would choose driving every time. Air travel is statistically more safe than road travel, but I have more control over my movements when driving. Having no available course of action is what makes a plane crash so terrifying, regardless of rarity.
Similarly, a spree killer in a school situation is terrifying on multiple levels, as someone is out to do harm to you AND you have no control over their movements or actions. The key to surviving is to wrest control of the situation from the spree killer, limiting movements and denying courses of action.
(Note: Few states in our nation allow weapon-based self-defense on the property of secondary education institutions, so this article will focus on the options available to those of us without such "teeth.")
"Spree killer" scenarios are similar to midieval sieges of castles. An entity (the bad guy or group) is assaulting on the large scale (the campus/plaza), the medium scale (the building), and the small scale (rooms). Our options as individuals are limited, and the entity's options are completely open. Reversing this equation is easiest with a plan that involves educators as well as students.
Denying access on the small scale has the most options, with relatively few on the medium scale and almost zero on the large scale. Public colleges and universities are extremely easy to enter with nothing more than a vehicle. Apart from manned gates and mandatory searches, the large scale should be left alone.
On the small scale (the room), one can deny access to any inward-swinging door with the inexepensive and readily-available door stop. As we saw in Newtown, locks are not adequate to stop the determined. For under twenty dollars, any teacher can purchase three door stoops and kick them under the door in a time of need. This will stop the door's motion, regardless of the lock.
If your door swings outwards from the room, a solution can be had for under twenty cents. This is in reference to a simple prank that involves flexing the door and inserting pennies between the door and the frame. Should the door be too stiff to flex (or the penny prank not withstand the barrage of bullets aimed at the doorknob), another twenty-dollar answer can by returning to the midieval siege; that is, simple wood and steel.
Affixing a steel cable or chain to a thick, five-foot-long piece of wood will do wonders when the wood is laid across the frame of the door and the cable wrapped tautly around the door handle. Done correctly, the door won't even budge a fraction of an inch. This denies access on the small scale, and the equipment will barely occupy the corner of a room or closet.
What if the unthinkable happens and the man with the only weapon gains access to your room? Read the sentence again, and focus on "with the only weapon." Change the dynamic by using everyday items to your advantage. Wasp spray, for example, will combat more than the red flying plague; it also makes for an excellent improvised mace-type spray. In addition, a fire extinguisher sprays a dense cloud of foam that makes breathing extremely difficult, and the hefty container is a very useful improvised weapon.
On the medium scale (the building), the abundance of entrances makes hardening against entry very difficult. However, equipping rooms near external doors or hallways with pails of vegetable oil can be useful in creating an improvised oil slick, making the passageway all but impassable. Causing the enitity to fall and sustain injuries decreases trigger time and may lead to the entity choosing another building altogether. Once a professional response has arrived, a bit of cat litter and a broom will clean the oil very quickly.
None of these items or advice will provide you with the mindset required to act in an emergency. This is something that you must provide for yourself as a part of your planning. Above all else, remember to plan.