The Herald Bulletin

January 17, 2014

Editorial: Drills prepared school for unthinkable events

— Many decades ago, school children practiced procedures meant to protect them if the United States suddenly found itself under nuclear attack.

They hid under desks, arms above their heads, or cowered in tunnels beneath the schools. While one could argue the effectiveness of these procedures had missiles actually started raining down from the sky, the drills were meant to provide structure in chaos.

Decades later, here in Indiana, nuclear fallout drills were gone, replaced by preparation for “The Big One.” No longer was man the threat, but Mother Nature herself.

Someone somewhere had predicted that the Midwest was due for a massive earthquake. Again, school children practiced what to do amid the chaos, taught to dive under their desks should the earth begin moving beneath their feet.

Fortunately, to date, Mother Nature has spared us her wrath.

Today’s students don’t fear nuclear missiles. And they don’t drill regularly for earthquakes.

But they do prepare for a threat their parents and grandparents could have never imagined – an assailant entering school grounds with the intent to spill blood.

We all like to think we are invulnerable to such acts of violence. It can’t happen here.

No doubt parents at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M., felt the same way.

This week, a 12-year-old male student walked into the school gym and fired into a crowd of students. A 11-year-old boy was shot in the neck and face. A 13-year-old girl suffered injuries to her right shoulder.

As soon as shots were fired, teachers at the school went into lockdown mode. An eighth-grade social studies teacher, John Masterson, approached the boy and talked him into dropping his weapon. And while many of the students thought the attack was simply another drill, the constant training made them react in the right way. The system saved the day.

Preparation for tragedy may at times feel foolhardy. The chances of disaster may be laughably miniscule. We may object to exposing our young people to constant thoughts of imminent danger.

But it’s important to continue to drill our students against these unthinkable threats.

When the lives of children are at stake, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

In summary When the lives of children are at stake, it's always better to be safe than sorry.