Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter (Author Interview)

Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter looks like a helpful book for educators.  What will readers get out of your book?
Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter was written specifically for those who care for children. The book provides early childhood professionals with evidence-based, actionable tools, tips, and resources that can be implemented quickly and affordably. Readers will learn proven techniques to help aid their preparedness efforts. This includes ways to increase security, conduct training and drills, implement effective policies, and develop action plans for threats both inside and around their program. Ultimately, I hope readers will take away a sense of empowerment - there are easy to implement, affordable, steps we can take today to make us better prepared for the threats we may face tomorrow. 
What motivated you to write Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter?
The Institute for Childhood Preparedness was established to help early childhood professionals prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters. Our driving force is to ensure early childhood professionals have the tools, training, and resources needed to help keep children safe. Our team has the honor of working on-site at early childhood programs throughout the United States each week. From our first-hand experiences, we have seen the need for this information. In recent years, significant resources have been spent preparing public schools, universities, and other entities for active shooter scenarios. However, the early childhood community has largely been excluded from these planning efforts. We originally developed our active shooter training program to address these concerns. Our on-site training program has been delivered to thousands of early childhood professionals across the country. This book was developed to help capture the knowledge we have gained through all of these interactions, discussions, and training sessions.
Can you tell us a little about the rings of security you mention in the book?
In 2008, I moved from Illinois to Washington, DC. I have had the privilege of working throughout the government, in the US Senate, and many White House meetings. Even when going about your daily life, you can’t help but notice the large security presence that protects these important American institutions. As I was coming out of a meeting at the White House one afternoon, I stopped to reflect on all of the mechanisms, systems, and personnel that were in place to ensure the building was secure and protected. 
As one of the most secure buildings in the world, these systems are impressive without a doubt. I then began thinking about how we could apply similar concepts to child care programs, Head Start centers, the homes of family child care providers, schools, and other places where young children spend the bulk of their time. This is where the rings of security concepts come in. Essentially, the rings of security are a way to think about your security strategies and opportunities. 
Start to think about how a threat could impact your program. The threat would have a starting point - likely in your parking lot. For many, the parking lot represents our biggest ring. It is our first opportunity to recognize there is something out of the ordinary happening. Despite the availability and low cost of high definition cameras - we see many businesses (early childhood programs, religious organizations, etc.) lack the ability to monitor their parking environments. This is an opportunity missed - as the quicker we can identify an issue, the better - as we will have more time to take action.
Thinking through the rings of security allows us to identify potential opportunities to make things safer. From cameras in the parking lot, to the type of doors/locks used, to internal policies and procedures - each ring has the opportunity to prevent or slow potential threats. 
How did you come up with the ideas in the book?
Many, many hours of research went into developing our in-person training and our online courses. The book was no different. Our goal is to have evidence-based strategies and techniques that can be implemented in an emergency or disaster. Our team studies each active shooter incident to learn what worked well and where improvement could be made. However, that is not simply enough. We must then take these valuable insights and translate them so that they are relevant to the early childhood community. Our audience is much different than a traditional business. Where options for run, hide, fight may work well in a traditional office setting - they do not easily translate into a classroom full of infants and toddlers. 
The methods and ideas in the book have been developed, tested, and vetted by early childhood experts. We want to ensure they meet the needs of the field and take into account the various nuances that come with working with young children. 
Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter?
A couple of things for certain! This topic is so dynamic, so ever-changing that it took a while to know when to call the book ‘finished’. Sadly, we keep seeing new incidents happen - and I wanted to ensure we provided the most up to date information as possible. 
As we have seen over and over again, not only are we attempting to learn all we can so we can be as safe as possible - but the bad guys are doing the same. So our challenge is ensuring we are aware of the latest tactics and strategies - to stay one step ahead of the next bad guy. This was difficult, as the book represents a snapshot in time. However, thanks to our online courses and in-person training - we can provide the most up to date information. 
Also, I am a visual learner and enjoy interactive environments. I believe the information contained in this book will be a very useful tool for many, but at the end of the day, we need to practice and exercise to prepare for emergencies. Fortunately, we have that capability through our on-site training, and I’d love to show all our readers how to put these concepts and theories into practice - that is where the rubber meets the road.
What do you like to do when not writing?
I spend much of my time relentlessly working to ensure early childcare professionals are prepared to respond to and recover from disasters. Part of this mission includes disaster relief and recovery. Since the devastating hurricanes, I have been working in the Caribbean, assisting the US Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Puerto Rico Department of Health to help bolster preparedness, response and recovery efforts for early childhood programs. Through our wonderful partnerships with the Region II Head Start Association and the National Environmental Health Association, we have been able to make significant impacts, and most importantly raise the awareness on issues impacting children. When I’m not traveling and working, I love playing/watching hockey and spending time with my loving wife and our nearly 17-year-old Yorkshire terrier at home in Washington, DC. 
Where can readers find out more about your work? 
We would be delighted if folks would visit us on our website or any of our social media channels. Our Facebook page is very active - and we are constantly posting new stories, videos and tips to help keep children safe. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. More information about how to sign up for preparedness training, and to learn more tips through our timely blog posts are available at The Institute for Childhood Preparedness website


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