Safety Doc Podcast 56: Will it Work? Army & DHS Prep Teachers for Active Shooters with Video Games

PODCAST-The Army and Homeland Security announced the release of a no-cost computer-based simulation that trains teachers how to respond in an active shooter situation at a school. Forum commenters felt the instruction is an encroachment on 2nd Amendment rights and that there been little analysis of the design and intended rollout of the program. Dr. Perrodin debates the good, the bad and the undetermined of this novel approach.

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On 12-28-2015, FEMA released the free course: IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do. The course is comprehensive and recommended by the Safety Doc. Yet, it’s relegated to the long list of unknown or dreadfully under-utilized no-cost FEMA offerings centered to public safety. Dr. Perrodin believes that the FEMA course should have been promoted as the recommended training prior to participating in the video game simulation – somebody dropped the ball here as IS-907 should have been coupled to the new virtual simulation.


Here are David’s 5 positive takeaways about the new virtual training:

  1. Video games are actually a great way to learn – remember the interview with Dr. Seann Dikkers in Safety Doc Podcast #18?
  2. This is a stepping stone to multi-person virtual reality trainings that can be calibrated for variables and injects.  This system is only a first attempt – and not much more than a single-player early version Call of Duty at this point.
  3. This will be free to schools and I expect free training materials that schools than then mesh with their own intruder training protocolss
  4. This doesn’t have the unnecessary drill trauma that has become so common with theatrical school shooting multi-agency trainings which have prompted litigation by staff and students and also police departments refusing to participate in such drills due to exposure to litigation.
  5. This will generalize to mall workers, retails workers, and eventually become as common as Bloodborne pathogens trainings.


  1. Most school shooters told somebody or made some social media posts days or months ahead of time – we need to focus on improving threat detection and threat input systems – this will have an impact on preventing school shootings.
  2. Using dispatch recordings to construct the scenarios is incomplete.  There also aren’t many options and no schools are similar in physical layout, staff, discretion philosophy.  There are hundreds and thousands of pages forensic studies from just Sandy Hook – use those to inform your development of the scenarios.
  3. I couldn’t discern the opportunity for the participant to ask questions – for example, “What should I do if I caught the hallway between classrooms?” or “I didn’t hear the announcement over the PA about the Lock Down.”
  4. What about a vehicle revving down a packed sidewalk?
  5. The majority of commenters are strongly arguing that this initiative is a threat to the 2nd amendment – so we see a loss of focus on the intended purposes of the training which is situational awareness and also accelerating contemplation of heuristics – options, and making decisions.


  1. Drill fatigue is a real phenomenon and if this is perceived as a novelty, it won’t be more effective than standard drills or tabletops.
  2. There is a risk that this could be perceived as an all-inclusive training when it is only a tool – a tool to really help sharpen situational awareness and force people to make decisions — and these are two factors that generalize to safer schools.
  3. I have little idea on how this would be used for interagency training exercises.
  4. Will we see increased focus on threat identification and threat reporting systems?
  5. As this evolves to full virtual reality, how will VR sets be funded – will staff development be centralized and then schools would be on a circuit of training.  Even though the video “game” is free, VR might not be an option for poorer districts and some districts might just dismiss this and stick with theatrical simulations.


Looking for Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD?

Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at

Resource cited:

Army and Homeland Security prepping teachers for the gunman at the door (Fox News – December, 2017). Retrieved from


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