Buckeye Firearms Foundation's FASTER program celebrates 3 years and growing

Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s (501c3) Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) program is approaching the end of it’s third full year and amazing progress is being made toward safer schools all across Ohio.

The FASTER program was developed as a common sense response to the horrific murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. While others looked at this tragedy as an excuse to push for more restrictions on honest gunowners or to discuss mental health and other secondary issues, the board of directors at the Buckeye Firearms Foundation decided to step away from the circular debate and focus on solutions. The solution we found was a 30 hour training program developed by John Benner at Tactical Defense Institute.

The program was based on the ‘Active Killer’ training Mr. Benner had been providing to the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) and others for over a decade. The training includes the knowledge and skills needed to effectively stop a threat along with the crisis management and emergency medical skills needed to handle the aftermath and continue saving lives while waiting on outside assistance to arrive.

What started in early 2013 as a pilot program for 24 teachers and administrators from schools across Ohio has grown into a multi-year curriculum with attendees from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Before the initial class of 24 could be completed we had received requests from over 1000 others wanting to participate in the FASTER program.

With the large number schools looking to have armed staff on the premises, another $100,000 was earmarked to provide another 4 classes at absolutely no cost to the schools. We also expanded to a second venue provided by the Chris Cerino Training Group in northern Ohio. The Buckeye Firearms Foundation was determined to make sure that budget and schedule/travel issues would not prevent schools from obtaining the best available training for any staff who would be armed in Ohio’s schools.

By the end of 2013 it was clear that the FASTER program could not just be a one-and-done type of event. The need and the demand was simply too strong and many schools simply could not do it on their own. For 2014 the board of directors committed another $125,000 to provide training for another 125 teachers and administrators, this time not only from Ohio, but from other states where the desire to duplicate the FASTER program was strong.

In 2014 we funded the first ‘Level 2′ FASTER class. This class was only available to staff who had previously completed the initial 3 days FASTER training and who had already been carrying in the schools. This pilot class of dedicated teachers and administrators were also the first to receive at no cost to them, emergency trauma kits providing the supplies they would need to treat the most likely causes of death in any violent event or other traumatic school emergency.

During 2014, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation announced another initiative to get these life saving supplies into all Ohio schools. In November John Benner and foundation president Jim Irvine were invited to present on the FASTER program at the Ohio School Board Association’s (OSBA) capital conference and trade show in Columbus Ohio. This conference is one of the largest in the country and was attended by over 9,000 Ohio school board members.

The FASTER program started 2015 with a budget for a total of five classes with another 125 teachers and staff. For the first time every FASTER participant would receive a classroom trauma kit valued at $75.00.

The year started with tons of interest from dozens of school districts across Ohio who had seen information on the FASTER program in the OSBA member magazine as well as in the NASRO School Safety Log Blog newsletter. We also started seeing school districts moving ahead of the FASTER program all on their own.

One Ohio district contacted us and purchased $5,000 worth of emergency trauma kits so they would have a “facility kit” for every building in their district. Still other districts who have been protecting student with firearms for 3 years began working together with local law enforcement and emergency medical staff and started looking for combined training as a group specifically for their own district.

This localized training quickly coalesced into what is now a third level of training which the FASTER program will provide. This new training will provide active killer/mindset and emergency medical training to all other teachers, staff and local emergency personnel in districts which have armed staff. The training will then incorporate all the persons who will be present during an emergency into the learning scenarios and force-on-force activities.

During July, we were seeing sometime 2-3 districts a week seeking training and assistance on how to authorize staff to be armed in their schools. Many of those districts have since made the decision to authorize staff to carry firearms. We expect several more districts to come on line soon as we will be in front of multiple schools boards who have requested our input in making their schools safer. The FASTER program attended the Ohio Tactical Officers Association training conference and was covered by at least 3 major market TV news stories. Plans are also being finalized for the FASTER program to attend the National School Boards Association’s national conference and trade show next spring in Boston Massachusetts.

At this point, it is anyone’s guess what 2016 will hold for this leading edge program but we need your help. First we need funding. If you or a business you know of would like to fund any portion, large or small of this program, please contact us via the http://www.FASTERSavesLives.org website. The past three years have all been funded by private individual donations, but that alone will not support this program going forward.

If your school has staff who want to be considered for this training program, use the ‘Apply for FREE Training’ link on the website. If you have questions or concerns on how to implement armed staff in your district and would like to discuss or have us present to your school board, contact us, we will travel anywhere to provide information and assistance. Making Ohio schools safer should not be controversial. We are here to help administrators understand violence and be better prepared to prevent it when possible, and limit the loss of innocent lives when it happens.

Joe Eaton volunteers as Buckeye Firearms Association's Treasurer and as Program Director for Buckeye Firearms Foundation's FASTER Saves Lives school safety program.

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