by Jeff Knox
(September 28, 2016) I just returned from the Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) in Tampa. As always, it was energizing to hear the latest updates and meet fellow activists from around the country. One highlight of the conference was a conversation with author and Colorado activist, Laura Carno. Although I had followed the 2013 recalls in Colorado that Laura worked on, she and I had not met. Her name came to my attention again through her article Keeping Kids Safe In A Broken World and we had a chance to talk at the conference.
Laura is looking to bring FASTER to Colorado. FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. The program trains teachers and administrators to be first responders in their schools. I’m familiar with the training due to my connection with the program’s creators in Ohio. The Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF) created FASTER in the wake of the Sandy Hook horror. History shows that “active shooters” and other rampage attackers regardless of the tool – whether a gun, a machete, or even a truck – have one goal: to slaughter as many innocents as possible before they are stopped. The faster someone can stop the killer, the faster someone can administer first aid, the more lives will be saved.
This responsibility includes medical training. Lives can be saved when personnel in schools are taught to stop bleeding, apply chest seals and apply tourniquets. Because they can’t administer medical aid while they are under attack, they are also trained to stop the attacker directly.
BFF is anxious to export FASTER to any state that can get the appropriate laws passed to allow school personnel to be armed on campus, and that will stay true to the FASTER curriculum. Jim Irvine, President of BFF said, “We have four years of FASTER training under our belts. The instructors at Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio are world class, and they are willing to train instructors in other states in the methodology. We know that FASTER saves lives. Every child —regardless of geography— deserves this level of protection.”
To date, BFF has raised money privately to train over 650 teachers and administrators in this life saving, 3-day course. All of this has been at no cost to teachers, schools or school districts.
After observing a FASTER training class in Ohio this summer, Laura is looking to bring the training to Colorado. “We are the state that had the tragedy at Columbine. Law enforcement has changed its protocols since then, but even when response time is just a few minutes, those are the crucial minutes,” she said. “The faster that an active shooter can be stopped and medical aid can be administered, the smaller the loss of life. Colorado families deserve this.”
I asked Laura what it was about the FASTER experience that made her want to import the training to Colorado sooner rather than later. She said, “During the three days of training, I was able to interact with teachers, principals and other school employees. These are people who would place their bodies between bullets and your kids. Not their kids, your kids. They just want a chance to survive.”
I learned that it’s also important to have the right trainers. This FASTER training goes far beyond the training one would take to obtain a concealed carry license – a concealed carry license is just an entry requirement. In addition to medical and firearms training, the course includes mindset training, hand-to-hand combat and force-on-force scenarios. Laura was impressed with the intensity with which the class was taught. “It was as if the instructors knew that this one skill,” she said emphasizing each word, “that they taught to this one teacher was going to save a life.” And it just might.
I was interested to know who joined the classes. Who were they? What made them decide to be an armed first responder on campus? In Ohio, the school employees applying to the program have to have a concealed carry permit, have their district’s permission and be a volunteer. Those Laura spoke with had no hesitation when they volunteered. They are people who were already familiar with firearms and wanted to be able to defend the kids in their school, just as they had been accustomed to defending themselves and their families.
Jim Irvine from BFF spoke at the GRPC and invited a conversation with anyone who wanted to bring FASTER to their state. I wasn’t surprised to see a crowd around Jim when he finished. “It’s a pretty compelling case,” he told me. “When we started FASTER in 2012, they laughed at us. They told us no one would sign up for the class.” But they had 2500 applicants for the first class of 24.