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October 22, 2013
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LVN Editorial: It can happen anywhere

The tragic shooting of a Sparks Middle School math teacher is senseless. The young 12-year-old student who perpetrated the crime before supposedly taking his own life is senseless.

In the weeks ahead, “experts” will study Monday’s early morning shooting, trying to figure out why this student brought a handgun on campus.

In an interview with a Reno television station, one parent said this incident could have happened anywhere in the United States at any time.

The Silver State has not been immune to violence infiltrating the schools, but the number of reported incidences involving guns has been low in Nevada with the last act of violence occurring March 14, 2005, in Reno. On that winter day, a 14-year-old shot two students at Pine Middle School.

Although the incident at Sparks Middle School was chaotic with an active shooter, school and strict plans — similar to those in Churchill County — went into immediate effect with police on the scene within 3 minutes. Through the use of conventional and social media, authorities kept the community advised to the events and how parents could go to a central point to pick up their children. For the most part, the execution of the emergency plan went as trained, but emergency and school personnel will review the situation of what went right and what didn’t.

Likewise, in counties across the state, superintendents and their safety teams should take some time to put aside some time during the next week and review the emergency plan:

Review lockdown procedures and escape routes.

Examine procedures in responding to an active shooter on campus.

Determine if central points for parents for picking up their children are more than adequate to handle the rush of parents.

Review the media plan to contact and keep both local and regional media apprised of the situation.

Use social media wisely to inform, not to create more panic in the community.

Furthermore, the heroics of others emerged during this Monday morning shooting. Math teacher Michael Landsberry, a former Marine and current airman in the Nevada Air National Guard with two overseas deployments, tried to persuade the shooter, according to eyewitness accounts, to surrender his weapon. The young boy did not; instead, he shot Landsberry at close point-blank range. That same heroism of protecting students is similar to what Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers did in Connecticut and what scores of teachers have done over the years when trying to protect their school children including the Reno P.E. teacher in 2005.

The key, though is to review procedures and train ... never knowing that tragedy strikes at any place at any time.

Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Oct 22, 2013 06:47PM Published Oct 22, 2013 06:47PM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.