COLUMBUS — In response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adult staff members, Buckeye Firearms Foundation launched an emergency response training program here in Ohio for teachers, administrators, and other school staff.
Called FASTER (Faculty / Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response), the nonprofit program has to date provide high-level training to more than 400 teachers and administrators from 152 school districts in 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties over the last three years.
“The response from Ohio educators has been more enthusiastic than we could have ever imagined,” said Joe Eaton, FASTER Program Director. “When we first announced that we planned to train teachers in armed response and emergency medical aid, some people said teachers would never sign up. But within days of announcing the program, we had 600 apply for training. In weeks, it soared to over 1,000. Today we have nearly 2,000 faculty members from all over Ohio waiting in line for a chance to get this training. And more are contacting us every day.”
The enthusiasm for this program has gone far beyond Ohio. School staff from six other states have attended FASTER training. In addition, instructors from as far away as Colorado have traveled to Ohio to see how the program works and take the idea back to their home state.
Created by concerned parents, law enforcement, and nationally-recognized safety and medical experts, FASTER is a groundbreaking, nonprofit program that gives educators practical violence response training.
The program is funded by thousands of small, individual donations to Buckeye Firearms Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable educational organization based in Ohio and the sister organization to Buckeye Firearms Association. Classes are provided at NO COST to school personnel or school districts. To date, no tax dollars have been spent on this training.
The program presents a carefully-structured curriculum with over 26 hours of hands-on training over a 3-day class that exceeds the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
The purpose is not to replace police and EMT, but to allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately. It is a well-established fact that faster response to school shootings and other violence results in fewer lives lost.
2016 begins the fourth year of the FASTER program with $150,000 budgeted for multiple classes, which now includes a Level 2 class for advanced training in armed response, trauma medical aid, and crisis and emergency management skills.
In addition, there is a new Level 3 class that takes place in the actual school district and includes not only armed school staff, but also local and county law enforcement officers, local emergency medical personnel, and other school staff who will be at the school when an active killer event occurs.
“It is truly an awesome experience to witness an entire state coming together with the one shared goal of protecting the lives of students,” said Eaton. “And many of the same school board members who at first chose to continue the same failed practices now are coming to us knowing they have to do something proactive about protecting their students from extreme violence.”