When I became a teacher, I knew I’d probably hand out a lot of Band-Aids and occasionally have to call on the school nurse for playground emergencies. (I’ll never forget watching one of my students flip off the top of a slide.) It boggles my mind, though, that a student in the Saugus shootings in California was saved because her teacher had a classroom gunshot wound kit on hand and knew how to use it. 

We have become a nation of people who must be prepared for gunshot wounds.

We’ve seen teachers training for school shootings in ways that feel terrifying. We’re doing lockdown drills, learning to recognize gunfire, and finding out how to soothe students who are terrified. It’s not just teachers who are preparing to treat gunshot wounds. There are American Red Cross trainings for workplace gun violence as well as for citizens who don’t go to an office each day. So, it makes sense that there would be teacher trainings as well. After all “There were at least 85 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019, resulting in 17 deaths and 54 injuries.”

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We can no longer pretend it’s unlikely to happen at our school. While we want to be prepared, we must also acknowledge that while it’s amazing that this Santa Clarita, California teacher saved her student’s life, it shouldn’t be on teachers to do that. We need to make more meaningful reforms to prevent school shootings in the first place. In the meantime though, we must face reality.

The shortage of school nurses makes it harder to back away from gunshot wound teacher training.

The school nurse is quickly joining the ranks of the disappearing school librarian. According to recent statistics, about 40% of schools only budget for a part-time nurse and 25% have no nurse at all. When teachers are called to take on other roles they aren’t trained for, it’s hard to know how to prioritize. If your school nurse isn’t on duty every hour of every school day, who is the one trained to help if the worst happens at your school? Does your school talk about gunshot wound kits and where they might be located?

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What does a classroom gunshot wound kit contain and how much does it cost?

We took a look at gunshot wound kits available online. Here’s what we found: the most important thing to remember is that you must stop the bleeding. Most kits contain bandages, antiseptic, and tape to keep the pressure on the bandage. A classroom gunshot wound kit also has medical sponges that clot a wound quickly. Kits on Amazon ranged from 79.99 to $199 and included other first aid supplies which may make the upgrade worth it for classrooms all over the country.

How do gunshot wound kits get into schools?

Just like any other school supply kits, a district might budget to ensure gunshot wound kits are available. They could put them in individual classrooms or place strategically like AEDs and other emergency equipment. A national awareness campaign called Stop the Bleed encourages bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. There are also grants available to get Stop the Bleed kits in schools.

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How do teachers get trained to use gunshot wound kits?

Teachers can get training at American Red Cross locations, online, and through the Stop the Bleed website. These locations also offer onsite workshops during school in-service days.

How to help make reform changes to prevent school shootings.

Learn as much as you can about school shootings by following credible, research based associations. Make sure they share factual information in non-inflammatory ways! One such site is Everytown for Gun Safety. Their program “seeks to improve [the] understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it—by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge in the courts and the court of public opinion.” Their site details a clear plan for working legally and methodically to prevent school shootings. 

These can be scary times for the education community, but we do not have to feel powerless. We can do what we can to improve the odds of victims and feel safer. Then, we can take it a step further to learn more about how to prevent school shootings.

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