Local school districts working on active shooter drills

No state mandate for active shooter dril

COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - Campus safety has become a hot topic once again throughout the nation after last week's mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. 

There is currently no state mandate for active shooter drills and there are a number of schools throughout the Coachella Valley that haven't practiced for such a situation.

"We prepare for earthquakes and we prepare for fire, but certainly, we never, I don't think, anticipated to prepare for active shooting," said Amber Gascoigne, principal at Cabot Yerxa Elementary School in Desert Hot Springs.

Mass shootings are such a new norm, there are no laws in place to train for it.

"There's no mandate from the state on active shooter drills," said Edward Nacua, Director of Security and Safety Services for the Desert Sands Unified School District.

Local school districts are learning as they go.

"Unfortunately, we learn more each time. For example, in this one, we are examining our practices for responding right away to a fire alarm," said Anne Kalisek, Executive Director of Student Support Services for the Palm Springs Unified School District.

"We need to have one point of entry for example. Then we realized there need to be advancements for the way we screen people," Nacua said.

DSUSD isn't completely unprepared, they have an emergency operations center and has established a standard response protocol. 

The district encourages all campuses to conduct lockdown drills, but at least one high school has not.

In the west valley, PSUSD did an active shooter training drill at Palm Springs High School with the help of the police department last year, but not at other locations

A new program the district began this year is in the pilot stages and is expected to be rolled out to all campuses next year.

"It's called the H.E.R.O. program and it's an acronym for hide, escape, run, and overcome," said Adam Coughran, President of Safe Kids Inc.

In the meantime, PSUSD will continue to practice lockdown drills throughout the district.

A representative for the Coachella Valley Unified School District said all of their sites have a plan in place for a major emergency but they haven't practiced for an active shooter yet.

"It's an ongoing training scenario for us and that is one of the scenarios we will be training for in the very near future," said Fred Gonzalez, Director of Campus Safety and Security for CVUSD.

CVUSD representatives told KESQ / CBS Local 2's Katie Widner that they have only recently been able to define what the specific roles of lockdowns, lockouts, shelter in place, and evacuations are. They say they will continue to build upon their knowledge.

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