SAN ANTONIO — Northside ISD launched an important new safety campaign Friday to help students combat active shooting situations.
Modeled after a nationally recognized program that is approved by the Department of Homeland Security, the Run Hide Fight campaign is the focus of a locally-produced video that features district students responding to a dangerous situation in a school.
NISD Police Chief Charlie Carnes said he believes helping students prepare for a possible threat is the right thing to do.
"I believe the training goes a long way, something that they can practice, that they can have a muscle reflex to a situation, that they would automatically know what to do," Carnes said, adding "I believe our parents should take the time to talk to their children, to let them know that there is a plan, that our schools are safe and Northside makes great efforts to protect them, but it's always good to have a plan, to reassure them that there is a plan and we can practice and we can know what to do in the unlikely event that something like this would take place."
Carnes said the video offers a powerful explanation of how to behave in an attack.
"The first opportunity would be of course to run. If they can get away from a situation, a dangerous situation, that's always the best opportunity, is to get away from it and if you can't get away from it, the next best opportunity would be to hide. And if you can't hide, the last opportunity would be to fight, to defend yourself and fight for your life," Carnes said.
An NISD spokesman said the release date of the video, during the summer break, was intentional so that parents would have time to view the training video and then share it with their children and answer any of their concerns.
Planning and development for the project went on for months, with a committee of parents, teachers, staff and district police.
Tisha Unger was a member of the committee.
"I think doing it in the summer is awesome because the whole idea is you have time to sit here and take the time to explain anything, if your children have any issues with not understanding or why did this happen, you'll have the time before school starts to explain things," Unger said.
Unger said the dramatic nature of the production makes it a powerful teaching tool. She said far too often, teens are distracted by their phones and not fully aware of their surroundings. The video, she said, sends a strong message about the value of paying attention to your surroundings.
"A lot of people stay focused on what's in front of them, or their phone, but sometimes you just need to look up and look around," Unger said.
The video features a scene in which a girl sees a boy pull a handgun from a backpack and then runs for help.
Unger said "When the girl walked down the hallway and saw that he had the gun, coming out of his bag, that moment, when she turned around and ran straight to the office, that was the big aha moment for me because yes, she's doing something she should be doing, like yes! They're going to tell somebody!"
The Run Hide Fight campaign is one of many tools the district uses to keep students safe in its sprawling 355 square miles of territory, serving 106,000 students.
Chief Carnes said NISD has invested heavily in security. Someone is always watching at the district's law enforcement center. There are 7,500 surveillance cameras, backed up by more than 100 district police officers. Many campus locations have upgraded secure lobbies with bullet-resistant features and lock out capabilities.