Early childhood professionals prepare for active shooting scenario

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Institute for Childhood Preparedness travels the country to make sure early childhood professionals have the skills and the confidence to keep themselves, and their students, safe.

On Sunday, the organization stopped in Topeka.

"I brought my other two employees with me today, and we all went through it together so that we could learn how to make a plan, and also how to protect ourselves to protect our children," Cathy Brennan, director of the discovery school at Montessori Preschool, said.

Sunday's workshop started with a presentation.

"Real world situations, real world examples," ," Andrew Roszak, executive director of the Institute for Childhood Preparedness, said. "What's worked well, what hasn't worked so well, so that we can learn and have the best response we possibly can."

The training then moved to hands-on exercises, including barricading doors and using improvised weapons — like wasp spray and fire extinguishers — to buy time in an active shooter scenario.

"The time to make your active shooter plan is not when the active shooter event is happening," Roszak said. "So the more you prepare for this, the more you train for this, the more you exercise for this ahead of time, the better your outcome is going to be if you ever do find yourself in one of these situations."

So far, the Institute for Childhood Preparedness has trained over 10,000 early childhood professionals across 15 states and nine tribal nations.

"Our motto is, 'Don't be scared, be prepared,'" Roszak said. "Sadly, we're at a time in this country where just as we prepare for fires and floods and tornadoes and earthquakes, we have to start thinking about what to do in an active shooter situation."

The organization aims to train early childhood professionals caring for children ages zero to 11.

"If you think about the early childhood professionals, not only are they on their own, but they're also in this very, very hard situation of protecting themselves, and protecting the children in their care," Roszak said. "There's a reason why when kids get to elementary school, they already know what to do for fires and tornadoes, and that's thanks to the work of all the early childhood professionals. So, we're being asked now in early childhood to help prepare our children for these active shooter scenarios as well."

The Institute for Childhood Preparedness will hold several more trainings in Kansas through April 18. To register, visit their website.