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Eddie Diaz and Kayla Royal go through a demonstration during a training simulation at Hernandez Elementary on Wednesday. Daily Record photo by Lance Winter

A personal experience on preparing for the worst

Daily Record Column
Sunday, September 22, 2019

My mother always said I had a vivid imagination as a child.

Fast forward and not much has changed today as I’ve gotten older.

This week my friend Andrew Fernandez, executive director of communications for the San Marcos School District, invited me to attend an exposure/self-defense training simulation at Hernandez Elementary. The school district and the San Marcos Police Department created a realistic experience to help adults recognize the sounds of a campus crisis. The goal is to better prepare to respond in a stressful situation.

When I arrived, I walked down the hallway where I greeted dozens of teachers from throughout the district who convened at the campus. Honestly, I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect.

Doug Wozniak, Director of School Safety and Transportation, briefed us on what couble be expected. Afterwards we were told to disperse throughout the arteries of the school, much like elementary students would on any ordinary day.

It’s what happened next that caught me off guard. We all heard a loud bang!

It sounded like a book being dropped from high above onto the floor. We quickly rushed into our classroom where a teacher closed and locked the door. The light was turned off and we were told to get in the corner of the room, squat down so as not to be seen, and be quiet.

A second later it was clear what the sound was – gunfire!

It erupted, echoing down the hallway.

My fist clenched.

Bang! Bang!

And then rapid firing.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Tears started to well up in my eyes as I began to imagine my grandchildren in their schools. I thought ‘how could this be happening in such a civilized society?’

The shooting continued, it seemed like it lasted an eternity, but I was told later it was just a couple of minutes. When it was over, we walked out into the smokefilled hallway, spent shell cartridges littered the floor.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to step over bodies and witness the carnage following a mass casualty event.

What the exercise did was make me have a greater appreciation for law enforcement officials who are trained to react in a time like this. But even more, my heart went out to teachers and administrators. I wanted to hug every one of them and say, ‘God Bless You.’ You have become the first line of defense for our children – a responsibility – a burden, heavy on your shoulders.

I’m sorry it’s this way in 2019. When I was in elementary school the biggest concern I had was, did I remember to finish my homework, and what did mom pack in my sack lunch.

Bulletproof backpacks, self-defense training? Please know all of you are in my thoughts and prayers every day and your courage and dedication are fantastic.

Note: SMCISD will be hosting a safety training open to all SMCISD parents on Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m. The training will take place at San Marcos High School.

San Marcos Record

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