With active shooter situations in US schools unfortunately multiplying, the Department of Homeland security is expanding its Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, program to now also include teachers. The program, which was originally designed to train police and fire agencies how to respond to active shooter situations, is now being expanded. Homeland Security officials claim the school version should be ready for launch by the spring of 2018.
Ms Tamara Griffith, a chief engineer for the project, commented: “With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality.”
“We want to teach teachers how to respond as first responders.”
Housed at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the $5.6 million program uses video game technology and animation to train teachers how to respond to an active shooter scenario.
Project manager Bob Walker claims that the simulation exists both for an adult and child shooter: “Once you hear the children, the screaming, it makes it very, very real.”
“We have to worry about both children and adults being suspects.”
In order to make the project as realistic as possible, certain situations in the program have been based on what happened in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, for which the developers talked to many of the family members of the victims and the first responders on site.
To develop the project, the engineers had to listen to all those stories. Ms Tamara Griffith: “It gives you chills when you think about what’s happening on those tapes.”
“It tore us apart to listen to her and what she went through.”
Homeland Security thinks that it is important for law enforcement agencies and schools to train together. Mr Milt Nenneman, Homeland Security Science and Technology First Responder Group program manager: “Very seldom do they have the opportunity to train together in real-life, and it is hard to get those agencies time away from their regular duties.”