Grade-school teacher Kim Hindery usually spends summer break relaxing while intermixing some time for professional development courses to prepare for the next school year.
But Thursday saw the second-grade teacher — and dozens of other Ross Schools staffers — frantically stuffing medical gauze into bloody-looking holes in a thigh-sized chunk of raw meat.
The beef — pumped full of red liquid simulating oozing blood — doubled as a human body part just ripped into by bullets fired by a school shooter.
Gaping holes in the meat played the role of bullet wounds and to add to the authenticity, tiny pieces of metal are buried in faux wounds representing ballistic shrapnel.
In another classroom down the hall, Ross teachers were learning how to clear a victim’s airways after a shooting head wound. Nearby, another group of instructors learned how to apply tourniquets to keep a severely wounded victim from bleeding to death.
Welcome to America’s new school summer break for teachers as an increasing number of schools nationwide scramble to react to deadly shootings — including high schools in Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas, where more than two dozen students and staffers died — of the just-completed school year.
And locally Ross Schools isn’t alone this summer break as many school districts across Butler County re-evaluate and upgrade their emergency response procedures and building security.
“This training has been very different from what I’ve done in the past,” said Hindery, a Morgan Elementary teacher. “Sticking my hands in meat and trying to save someone’s life is definitely a rare experience.”
“It’s really good, hands-on experience,” said Hindery, referring to a possible school shooting that would have teachers helping those wounded. “We’ve never really known what to do in a hands-on situation. It preps you for what you would do in that exact situation.”
That’s the goal, said Ross Schools Superintendent Scott Gates, who arranged the summer break training and directed his 2,800-student school system to also install custom-made emergency casualty care first aid bags throughout the district’s four schools.
America’s growing frequency of shooting massacres pushed the new training, according to Gates.
“I’ve been in education for 26 years and I’ve never had to schedule a training like this, but it’s very important that our staff is trained so we can help our staff, our students and anybody who is in our building at any time,” Gates said.
“We’re taking a step up from (basic) first aid training,” he said of the new program. “We are going to be using tourniquets and we are going to be using supplies to stuff wounds. These are the things that are going to keep our kids alive.”
On-site, immediate casualty care is “imperative” to take care of students and teachers in the aftermath of a traumatic situation, Gates said.
Steve Castator, director of pupil personnel for Ross Schools, said while it’s unfortunate that such training now has to be conducted, “these are real-life skills that are important for educators to have and understand.”
Castator said he has never treated a fresh bullet wound.
The most surprising part, he said, was “how much pressure you put into the actual area and how much gauze you can fit into such a small hole to make sure to do everything you can to stop the bleeding.”
“It’s difficult to do and I can’t imagine how much more difficult in a real-life situation,” he said.