A 2007 shooting-and-evacuation drill included volunteers with simulated injuries at a middle school in Alameda, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.)
By Ken Klippenstein
While the gun violence debate has focused on how to stop the epidemic of school shootings, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking a different approach: teaching school children how to adapt to them.
The DHS has issued a $1.8 million grant in order to create a program providing “lifesaving trauma training to high school age students for mass casualty events,” according to federal procurement records reviewed by TYT.
The training program, called “School-Age Trauma Training,” seeks to provide “the knowledge necessary to stabilize the injured and control severe bleeding until first responders arrive on the scene,” the documents state.
The procurement language does not identify the kinds of mass-casualty events for which children will be trained. Although the documents cite a 2014 DHS report as the program’s impetus, the grant follows widespread criticism of the failure by Congress and President Trump to enact major legislation in response to high-profile school shootings, including one at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. The Parkland shooting, carried out with an AR-15 assault rifle, left 17 people dead, mostly schoolchildren.
The Parkland massacre gave rise to an unusually impassioned public response. Students engaged in mass walkouts to protest government inaction and launched voter-registration drives.
The School-Age Trauma Training program also comes on the heels of other proposed responses to school shootings that do not address gun control. After the Parkland shooting, for example, President Trump and other Republican officials, joined by the NRA, called for teachers to be armed.
“If schools are mandated to be gun free zones, violence and danger are given an open invitation to enter. Almost all school shootings are in gun free zones. Cowards will only go where there is no deterrent,” President Trump tweeted after the Parkland shooting.
Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines last month for getting two Republican congressmen to endorse firearms training for preschoolers so they could protect themselves in a school shooting.
While legislation to arm teachers appears to have mostly stalled at the state level, the new DHS program could add bleeding-control training to active-shooter drills as part of the new normal in American schools.
“Similar to how students learn health education and driver’s education, they must learn proper bleeding control techniques using commonly available materials; including how to use their hands, dressings and tourniquets,” the records state. The training is also to include “information on how to use one’s hands to apply pressure to a wound when nothing else is immediately available.”
The documents delineate several phases to the program, culminating in a “Strategic Business Plan” to solicit donations in order to make the program a “long-term self-sustaining mechanism.”
In other words, this does not appear to be a short-term experiment.
The records at some points go into morbid detail, noting, “Victims can quickly die from uncontrolled bleeding within five to 10 minutes; however, anyone at the scene can act as immediate responder and save lives if they know what to do.”
The program does not appear to be concerned exclusively with saving lives. As one passage notes, trainees are expected “to act quickly and decisively in the face of disasters, thereby preventing death and injuries, minimizing loss of property [emphasis added], and allowing for a more rapid and efficient recovery.”