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FASTER Saves Lives program recommended to be adopted at first Connecticut school

by Chad Baus

12:32PM Friday, February 5 2016

Just over three years after a deadly attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut inspired Buckeye Firearms Foundation to begin a program to arm school faculty, news media in the Constitution State are reporting that the Foundation’s FASTER Saves Lives program is being considered for adoption in a Kent, CT school just 40 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary.

Created by concerned parents, law enforcement, and nationally-recognized safety and medical experts, FASTER, which stands for Faculty / Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response, is a groundbreaking, nonprofit program that gives educators practical violence response training. Classes are provided at NO COST to school districts.

From Danbury, CT’s News-Times:

Town selectmen have asked the Board of Education to consider adopting a school safety program that includes arming teachers and other school staffers with guns.

By a 2-1 vote earlier this week, the Board of Selectmen agreed to recommend the “FASTER Saves Lives” program, which was developed by Ohio’s Buckeye Firearms Association in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and other school shootings.

The program pays tuition, and room and board for teachers and other school personnel while they are being trained to carry firearms in schools, and offers help to school districts with legal and other issues involved in implimenting the program.

The article provides testimonials from Ohio school officials on the success of the program:

The FASTER Saves Lives program — FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response — has been active in Ohio since 2013. The sponsoring Buckeye firearms group is an affiliate of the National Rifle Association.

According to the program website, training includes use of firearms, crisis management and emergency medical response.

Several Ohio school districts, many of them in rural areas, have adopted the FASTER program.

Jeff Staggs, superintendent of schools in Newcomerstown, about 100 miles south of Cleveland, said his staff was trained in the program three years ago.

“After the Sandy Hook tragedy, parents came to me asking to form a safety committee,” Staggs said. “They knew the Ohio Legislature allows teachers to carry firearms with a permit. We have had armed staff for three years now. It has worked outstandingly for our district.”

Another Ohio superintendent, who asked his district not be identified, said two staff members have been trained through FASTER Saves Lives to protect the community’s one school.

He said the gun is kept in a biometric safe in a secure area that is quickly accessible to two staffers. If there is reason to believe the school is at high risk, the staff members carry the guns.

The district hopes to have more staff trained soon, the superintendent said, and regular follow-up training is done with the local sheriff’s office.

“The FASTER Saves Lives organization has been a great resource to schools across Ohio in providing the highest level of training and resources needed to implement a program,” he said.

The Kent selectmen’s idea is not without its detractors. Again, from the article:

“The selectmen are making a suggestion,” [School Board Chairman Paul] Cortese said. “That doesn’t mean the board will take it up or vote on it. If it does go on the agenda, there will be a presentation. But because someone asks for something to go on the agenda does not guarantee it will or when it will.”

Cortese assured parents, “The children are safe in this school.”

“We have a superintendent and administration that we pay a lot of money to decide on the training of our staff,” Cortese said.

Parent Susan Schullery told the school board Thursday night she opposed the idea of teachers carrying guns.

“These are my neighbors,” Schullery said. “I don’t have guns in the house. I am careful about whose home my children go to regarding guns. I can’t imagine being a teacher and not a trained police officer and carrying a gun.”

Cortese and other board members declined to discuss the merits of the proposal. But Gov. Dannel P. Malloy left no doubt he considers the idea a bad one.

“If any board of education would approve this, I’d be shocked, frightened and disappointed,” the governor said. “It makes no sense. And no school system in the state of Connecticut should be allowed to do this.”

Malloy said if school districts want properly trained security, such as former police officers, it’s their decision.

“The idea that we’re going to have a volunteer receive 26 hours of training or teachers and principals receive 26 hours of training, that’s just unacceptable,” Malloy said. “It puts children in more danger, not less.”

Kent Selectman Jeffrey Parkin, who brought up the matter, seems to understand the issue much more cleearly than Gov. Malloy.

According to the article, the small town of Kent lacks a police force of its own and relies for its safety on a resident state trooper and state police.

“It can take (state) police 25 to 30 minutes or so to arrive, given their proximity to Kent Center School,” Parkin is quoted as saying. “We have a resident trooper, but he can’t be everyplace all the time.

“If an active shooter shows up at a school, the way they are stopped is with a firearm,” Parkin told The News-Times. “If someone on staff is properly trained, they have the ability to stop and neutralize the attack until police can arrive on scene.”

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

Additional Media Coverage:

EducationWorld.com – Connecticut School Considers Proposal to Arm Teachers, Volunteers

“The nonprofit Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response program would provide trauma kits and firearms training to school personnel in the event of a hostile act or intrusion,” said WTNH. “The program would also allow anonymous volunteers to carry weapons at school. It offers 26 hours of training during a three-day class in Ohio.”

Hartford Courant – Kent Considering Plan to Arm Teachers

Community leaders are considering a program that could lead to arming teachers and staff at the Kent Center School — an idea that Gov. Dannel P. Malloysaid is “outrageous and would put people at risk.”

The board of selectmen voted 2-1 this week to bring “FASTER Saves Lives” — a free gun-training program offered by an Ohio-based nonprofit — to the local board of education, which has authority over whether to implement the program at this rural town’s only school. The school board is expected to review the idea at its March meeting.

According to FASTER, which stands for “Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response,” the program is designed to train school staff in the event of an active shooter.

“The purpose is not to replace police and EMTs, but to allow teachers, administrators and other personnel on site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately,” the organization states. “Each school selects staff members who are willing, competent and capable. Experts on school violence provide training in armed response, crisis management and emergency medical aid.”

The program would also allow volunteers to carry weapons at school. It offers 26 hours of training during a three-day class in Ohio.

The FASTER program, founded four years ago by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, provides resources to school districts, including a sample school board resolution to authorize staff to be armed on school property as well as how to create an “armed staff checklist.”

“What began simply as a pilot class of 24 teachers and administrators shortly after the horrific murders at Sandy Hook elementary school has grown and expanded into a multi-year safety program which is reaching schools across the country,” FASTER says on its website.

“Nationwide, schools and parents are demanding a truly effective way to handle the threat of extreme violence in their schools and our FASTER program provides just that at no cost to the district. The days of a ‘it won’t happen here’ violence prevention plan are long gone, schools that are not using every tool available to them are now being held liable by their communities.”

The Foundation drew national attention in 2013 when it donated $12,000 to George Zimmerman, the Florida man found not guilty in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

WTNH (ABC New Haven, CT) – Kent town officials considering program to arm teachers

Town selectman Jeffrey Parkin is suggesting a program that would allow teachers to carry firearms in the classroom at Kent Center School. Its the towns only pre-K through eighth grade school.

Kent selectman voted two to one on presenting the Board of Education to look into the program “Faster Saves Lives.” It’s a non-profit program that gives educators 26 hours of violence response training.

NOTE: An online poll is being conducted by WTNH, with votes going heavily in favor of arming teachers.

Buckeye Firearms Foundation (501c3) president Jim Irvine introduces the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) Program

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