As a school crisis develops, more time means more options. This episode’s guest works to put seconds back on the clock by teaching people steps to improve their chances for survival during a chaotic situation. ABOUT MORGAN BALLIS. Morgan Ballis is the Director of Strategic Planning & Training with Campus Safety Alliance which is a network of emergency management professionals, law enforcement trainers, and educational leaders providing evidence-based safety solutions for PreK-12 facilities and faith-based organizations. He is a firearms instructor, United States Marine Corps veteran, and is currently completing a doctoral degree in Emergency Management. ACTIVE SHOOTER DATA is CONFUSING. The number of school shootings over the past 20 years depends upon the source of the data. Morgan advocates for using data curated by the FBI which includes: number of attacks, locations of attacks, relationship of the shooter, timelines, and casualties. WHAT’S THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM LOCKDOWN? Lockdowns have become commonplace in today’s schools. Morgan shares that the origin of lockdown drills is rooted to 1970s Southern California when the threat was that someone driving by would shoot at a school. Imagine getting beneath window-level and pulling thick curtains on exterior windows. He noted that early lockdown drills where informally known as “Drive-By Drills” as the threat was external to the school. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LOCKDOWNS IN THE 1970s and TODAY. Unlike the drive-by threats of the 1970s, contemporary active assailant threats are manifesting within the school. Morgan shares data that these incidents are shorter in duration (3-5 minutes) and more often completing before the arrival of law enforcement – especially in rural areas. These changes in the profile of an active assailant event are rationale for Morgan’s support of an options-based response. SITE-SPECIFIC TRAINING. The school is the unit of measure. Morgan stresses the importance of addressing each school setting within a school district and going beyond quantitative data to interview students, staff, and stakeholders. He revealed that some prominent school safety firms deploy architectural engineers who assess the school environment from a design, hardware and software approach. This creates a conflicted interest as the company conducting the safety assessment will subsequently market solutions that it will sell and install, such as cameras – despite other priorities of defining safety terminology, equipping staff with reliable 2-way radios and teaching standard communication protocols. A TEAM OF EXPERTS. Morgan embraces building a team of content experts to work with him – a group that is matched to the needs of the location. This is known as small group theory and is similar to how the CDC operates when faced with a potential pandemic. IF MORGAN HAD JUST ONE HOUR IN A SCHOOL. Schools seldom have more than ten days of contracted non-student time during a school year. This time is quickly carved into bits for developing curriculum, mandated training on blood borne pathogens, grading, setting up classrooms, ... School safety has secured its place at the table of professional development, but there’s never enough time, right? Morgan advises schools to identify how much time they will allocate to staff training for school safety. The first priority is defining terminology and establishing inter-rater reliability. The second priority is a reliable communication system with 2-way radios for all staff. Morgan’s emphasis on communications aligns to this 2013 interview with communications expert Fred Varian: LEARNING OBJECTIVES. Threaded throughout this interview was the need to cultivate learning objectives for school safety activities. Are we testing the school’s 2-way radios? Are we measuring the mass communication system that alerts parents? How might a few learning objectives completely change the tone of a school district and outside agencies conducting oft-controversial intruder exercises? And, what do most schools overlook? FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at This is episode 117.

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