Introduction

During the last 50 years many violent incidents have occurred on school properties. The worst of these atrocities invariably involves a shooting of some type where the perpetrator(s) usually take their life as law enforcement moves in to apprehend them. These incidents are thoroughly investigated and reports are issued. The single most defining moment for significant change occurred on April 20, 1999, with the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. This incident was the result of more than a year of planning by two students who wanted to kill 500, blow up their school, and kill responders as they approached the school. Columbine ushered in a nationwide effort to create emergency response plans that address this particular situation and also encompass the multi-hazard approach for emergency response. These plans have been in use for over ten years and they should be updated to take into account the changes that the perpetrators have introduced, which call for a modified response. New trends continue to evolve as these perpetrators change their ways of committing these heinous acts of terrorism. They are becoming more aggressive in their activities and, therefore, the school administration and responders must continually adapt their responses to take into account these changes and improve their effectiveness.

In the years since the Columbine catastrophe, school personnel, law enforcement, firemen, emergency medical service personnel, and others have seen many changes, but has their significance been adequately communicated across the nation to each of these groups on an individual basis? These changes or lessons have been taken by many groups and incorporated into comprehensive generic emergency response plan programs. They have been endorsed or adopted by national, state, and local school organizations for use to improve the safety and security in schools. The work that remains to be done is for the school community to take these programs, customize them for their unique campuses and incorporate the new advances into them on an annual basis. Many schools have embraced these programs and used them to their advantage to update their plans to bring them up to the latest thinking of the safety community.

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