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4 Keys to Conduct Lockdown Drills Without Traumatizing

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Many organizations and even some legislators have banned the use of lockdown

drills citing the potential trauma they may cause. However, drilling of any kind is

paramount for a successful outcome.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall

to the level of our training.” - Anonymous Navy Seal

1. Do not use live role players or props such as tactical equipment or guns.

These items should be reserved for the police to simulate with, and while

we may encourage that type of drill in particular situations this is not the

way to conduct your first drill or any drill involving small children. You

don’t set a fire or use a smoke machine during a fire drill, do you?

2. Always notify your audience that you will be conducting a drill.

You will want to put ALL participants on notice that a drill will be

conducted. Schedule a date and time and let all parties present know

about the drill. Before calling for a lockdown announce, “This is a drill, this

is a drill only.” And do so multiple times throughout the exercise and

announce when the drill is complete. Notify local law enforcement you will

be conducting a drill. It is also best practice to post signs at entrances

notifying any potential visitors that a drill is underway.

3. Model calm behavior.

Most people do not get traumatized by a fire drill. Why? Because it is

commonplace and hopefully you are calm and collected during the drill.

This instills faith in your audience that the situation is under control, and

you know what to do. This is paramount when children are present.

4. Debrief.

At the completion of the drill debrief with your audience. Allow them to

ask questions and provide them with a response. If you don’t know the

answer, get the answer for them after consultation. Knowledge is power

and knowing what to do and why you are doing it is key in instilling


If your organization is conducting lockdown drills and you are telling the

participants in the room to huddle together you are using poor, outdated,

and dangerous training. To find out a proper proactive response please


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