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A Reality Check

April 27, 2017
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

When you're a teenager, there are a lot of things on your mind as the school year winds down.

Summer activities, vacation, a job, you know, fun things.

You don't think about what would happen if a stranger walked into your school with a gun and started shooting.

You don't think about your own mortality - losing your life in a classroom or a hallway.

Sadly, neither did 10 students at Columbine High School in 1999; or 30 students at Virgina Tech in 2007, or 26 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2013.

But it happens - here, in the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"If a shooter comes in to your school, they are trying to kill you. They have no other goal than to kill as many people as they can."

Estherville Police Officer Nate Dunlavy didn't sugar coat it one bit. As he concluded that statement, not a sound was heard out of students at Graettinger-Terril last Wednesday morning.

Officer Dunlavy, who works with the Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District as a liaison officer, presented a session on ALICE training, a program to teach people what to do, how to respond, if they should ever be faced with an active shooting incident in a school, mall or workplace. The program was conducted through a cooperate effort of Iowa Lakes Community College and Palo Alto County Emergency Management, working with the Graettinger-Terril Community School District.

Before Wednesday was done, students were exposed to a simulated active shooter drill, complete with casualties, armed law enforcement searching the building for a pair of armed intruders, with actual gunshots echoing through the hallways. Add in firefighters, emergency medical personnel and an armored personnel carrier that delivered an armed tactical team to assist in the drill, along with several students in makeup as victims, and the scene became almost too realistic.

While some might say going to such extremes is merely a scare tactic, such is simply not the case. Studies of mass casualty events such as Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook all showed that simply cowering in a corner or hiding under a desk was not a response for survival.

"Hiding in a corner and praying for the best is not going to work," Officer Dunlavy said. "Be ready to adapt to the situation at hand, but remember, there are no guarantees of survival, only that you can give yourself a better chance of being a survivor."

It's a harsh message, but sadly, our society has gravitated towards the more extreme, the incidents of violence designed for maximum casualties and shock value. People who have no value for human life, and only see a way to further a cause, are everywhere in our world.

Our country was built on the idea of neighbor helping neighbors, and a sense of community. However, should the worst ever occur, it is still up to each individual to do what they can to survive.

Let us hope we never have to make such decisions.



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