What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

I’m a fan of being prepared, and these days, we are undergoing “school hardening” including bleeding control training. At the same time, I’m looking to increase my own skills and knowledge in dealing with critical incidents. I dive, bike, run, and sail. I hope to never need these skills, but if I don’t have them… I sure can’t use them.

Recently, I returned from a dive trip to Key West. For one scary moment, I thought we were going to be performing CPR on a diver who was under-weighted, could not reach the bottom, and was floundering on the surface. Wave heights were two to three feet, and she would not keep the regulator in her mouth. She finally got back on the boat, and I realized just how much everyone needs survival training.

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

“Advanced First Aid Afloat”

Although trained in CPR and currently taking a Tactical Care Course from Crisis Medicine, I understand those classes are just one aspect of being prepared. For Christmas, my dive partner presented me with a copy of “Advanced First Aid Afloat” by Peter F. Eastman. It’s graphic and in-depth, covering lacerations and amputations. It’s a comprehensive reference guide for long-distance sailors who might be weeks from shore.

The skills and techniques presented in this book also are of use for anyone who canoes, hikes, camps – any activity that takes you away from help.

While I’m sailing, I’m actually unlikely to be out of reach of fast boats, helicopters, docks, or vehicles. However, thinking through the “what if’s” is good mental preparation. It’s hard to follow a plan if you don’t have a plan.

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

“Counter Ambush; the Science of Preparing for the Unexpected”

Recently, we held an unplanned armed intruder drill. That made me realize what I did and did not really know. Though designed to demonstrate what it really would “feel like” and “be like,” you cannot create the confusion and stress of an actual, in Ron Pincus’ words, “critical dynamic situation.” He writes some really thorough books on being prepared for those situations. I’ve read some of them twice.

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control


So, I set out to conduct more research. I know a shooting incident would be confusing and chaotic. Unless someone has been in such a situation, they would not know just how overwhelming. Without knowing what I might be up against, I cannot plan. I can adapt, improvise, and overcome, but to do so, I needed more situational information.

I turned to the most thorough, most comprehensive, and most-recommended reading on the topic that I could find. “Columbine.”

Online, I ordered a used copy – the thrifty school teacher in me trying to recycle. Coincidentally, a book club and fellow teacher friend had posted on my page an article about training teachers on what an attack would be like to experience by shooting them with dummy bullets. I checked the veracity of that report on three trusted news sources. It was true. I vowed to finish this book and complete this article.

I opened the package, and there it lay. “Columbine.” My skin crawled.

Review of “Columbine”

It is the most thorough, exhaustive, comprehensive, heavily researched, factual, and most well-written piece of journalism you can imagine. Dave Cullen’s ten years of research is all presented in one book. You must read it. You simply must. The amount of research presented is astounding. I made it through the entire Warren Report on JFK’s death. I could tackle this.

I read the forward, the timeline, then the notes and bibliography. I knew I must quickly memorize the school layout drawing and notes material before launching into the actual book because the author’s beginning note was so incredibly well-written. I knew once I started the book, I would not be able to stop or want to slow down and consult the notes. I wanted that background in the back of my head as I read.

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

Why “Columbine” Matters Now

A dear sailing friend of mine and I recently competed in a women’s only sailboat race. At the captain’s meeting that morning, we made a discovery. She had no idea I was a high school teacher. I had no idea she is the security officer for the St. Augustine’s The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. That’s sailing – we’re there to suspend ourselves from our “work” life, and often have no idea we are rubbing shoulders with attorneys, doctors, undertakers – we’re all just sailors.

We briefly compared notes on teacher compliance, drill type effectiveness, procedures, and school “hardening.” She suggested reading the Arapahoe Report for more information. I started with an article on the report, then moved on to the actual 40-page report from the Arapahoe County Sheriff.

Her students are the “softest” targets imaginable. They cannot hear the alarms. They cannot see the threat. Run, hide, fight. Deaf, blind, or deaf and blind.

Lessons to Learn

It was with her students in mind that I began reading “Columbine.” I did not put it down until after midnight when I could no longer focus. It is that compelling, that good, that important. I made it through the whole book. I’m treating it like a textbook – with lessons to be learned.

And I learned so much. I need more. More training. More supplies. More support. More teachers on board with using their school supply money to stock emergency items. More training for teachers. More.

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

“A Mother’s Reckoning – Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy”

Shortly after beginning “Columbine,” a dear high school teacher friend of mine in Orlando, Sherri, told me she had read “A Mother’s Reckoning – Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy” by Sue Klebold.

She said it was written by one of the Columbine shooter’s moms. She told me that a second Parkland survivor committed suicide over our Spring Break weekend, as did the father of a Sandyhook first grade victim. She added that she had heard there was a suicide to match each of the victims at Columbine. “I’m getting to old for this,” she said. “Insane.”

I looked up the information on this book, and this is next on my reading list. All the proceeds are donated to research and charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.

The Washington Post’s review says it’s a look at grief and shame, and a thorough, unflichingly-honest account of coming to terms with the unthinkable. It says her goal in writing it was to help other families recognize when a child is in distress.

After reading “Columbine,” another viewpoint on “why” and “how could it have been missed” might be good.

, What I’m Reading to Prepare for Active Shooter Response Training // Bleeding Control

“Parkland: Birth of a Movement”

In a search for more quality reading, I came across an article online about the author of “Columbine’s” new book about the effects of the Parkland shootings. “We Got it Wrong’: Columbine author reflects on school shootings and the media.

That inspired me to look for the book since I’m appreciating Cullen’s thorough writing style. It’s “Parkland: Birth of a Movement” by Dave Cullen.

Although the review says Cullen suffered from two bouts of PTSD due to the coverage in Columbine and vowed to never return to the scene of a horrific crime. However, he saw a different reaction to the tragedy in Parkland and decided to write a celebration of the survivors’ passion. I think this might be a good antidote / follow-up after reading “Columbine.”

What to Read Next: What’s in My Classroom Bleeding Control Kit

Please comment below if you have any suggestions, questions, or comments. I appreciate your feedback and hope you found this useful or have any suggestions for more reading. Kim


  • Rob Pincus April 9, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you sharing!

    I’m proud to see some of my work influencing your preparations.

    • Kimberly April 9, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Thank you so much – I really appreciate the lessons you teach.

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