Walking into Bailey Lake Elementary School you expect to see hundreds of kids, artwork in the hallways and teachers. On Wednesday, the look was a little different — a team from St. Joseph Mercy Oakland was inside the library giving a lesson to the teachers.
It wasn’t about math, writing or social studies; instead, members from the hospital’s trauma program were teaching teachers how to pack wounds, apply a tourniquet and other basic first aid.
“We have to think about the kids academically, socially and emotionally,” said Blagicia Taseki, a fourth-grade teacher. “Now, you’re adding this other element. It’s really important to remember they’re our number one priority.”
It’s the reality of being a school teacher in 2018. Teachers don’t just teach — it wasn’t long ago a national debate was raging about whether teachers should be armed. Teachers have become de facto security experts, leading drills for students.
Watching a teacher training to pack wounds with gauze may seem drastic, but the reality is if the worst case scenario happens, they’ll be the first people to interact with a child. The “Stop the Bleed” training being taught by St. Joseph’s is part of a national initiative that’s meant to stop blood loss and increase survival rates.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, someone who is bleeding severely can die from blood loss within five minutes, before first responders arrive at the scene.
“Oh, I’m so grateful,” said Taseki, noting that it’s not something she wants to think about but needs to be prepared for.
“I’m definitely more ready than when I walked in here.”
Clarkston Community Schools has trained roughly 1,000 employees to date including every elementary school, middle school, high school and their alternative high school. The district took the next step and trained the administration building workers and all their workers inside the bus garage.
“I think with all the recent activity, active shooters and tragedies it’s just affecting how we prepare ourselves so we can still concentrate on what our true goals are,” said assistant superintendent John Lucido.
That true goal? Education. As Lucido explained to 7 Action News, to get to that goal you have to be prepared for everything else. That's why the Clarkston Community School District started a safety task force. He described it as a group of teachers, administrators and experts looking at security and school safety from a 360-degree standpoint.
That means changes didn’t stop with Stop the Bleed training. A recent bond issue funded new construction that changed the setup of school entrances — anyone who enters a school is now directed through the office, doors are locked and entrance points are limited to ensure safety. The staff was recently given ALICE training, the latest form of training recommended by the FBI and police departments across the country. They plan further drills with students this year.
Christy Kreucher, a parent, said it’s scary to not think of a school as a safe haven. That said, she believes that training like this makes it easier to have conversations with her kids about the safety of schools.
In a time when towns like Parkland, Sandy Hook and Columbine are now synonymous with violent school shootings; Kreucher said that it’s important to not only be prepared but to put things into perspective and realize the likelihood of occurrence is low. Still, the extra training offers comfort to parents like her.
“You certainly hope that something like this never happens close to home, anywhere, but at the same time it’s nice to know they’re prepared should something arise,” said Kreucher.