Pell City Schools employees go through active shooter training

Pell City police Chief Paul Irwin held a “Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events” training class at the Pell City Board of Education Central Office on Friday. 


David Atchison/The Daily Home

PELL CITY – Principals, school coordinators and administrative support personnel gathered at the Pell City Board of Education Central Office on Friday morning for active shooter training.

“I am going to teach you some things that I was taught,” Pell City police Chief Paul Irwin told the roomful of educators. “We are going to teach you what to do and how to act when we aren’t there.”

Irwin discussed active shooter events, and educators watched videos and listened to actual emergency calls from active shooter situations.

“This is a federal program that trains civilians who may be involved in an active shooter event,” Irwin said.

Irwin said he has been involved in many active shooter situations. The veteran officer, who retired from the Birmingham Police Department, has been in an shootout with a robbery suspect inside a bank.

He said when there is an active shooter event, like the one last week in Parkland, Florida, it is always emotional for him.

Irwin said he has two friends he went through the FBI Academy with that were at the tragic scene. Last week’s event claimed 17 lives.

He said active shooter training began after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.

“Columbine started the need for active shooter training,” Irwin said.

He said law enforcement have learned from the past and are now more proactive in active shooter situations.

“When we arrive at an active shooting situation, we want to find that person who is shooting,” Irwin said. “We want to find and eliminate that threat.”

The active shooter training for educators lasted for more than two hours.

“It was informative,” said Gary Mozingo, the facilities supervisor for the school system.

Mozingo said he plans to go through all the schools and look for ways to better secure each facility.

Eden Elementary Principal Laurie Funderburg said she welcomes fresh eyes looking at the security of her school. She said police are expected to go through the school and make suggestions.

She said Friday’s training emphasize asking yourself, “What if?”

“I want our teachers to be mentally prepared,” Funderburg said.

Friday’s training emphasized planning ahead, knowing all exit points and what to do if something does occur.

“It brought awareness, what to do and how to respond,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Barber.

He said it was good for Pell City school system administrators to sit down with someone as knowledgeable as Irwin and bring security issues to the forefront.

Barber said principals and administrators were ready to take what they had learned Friday back to the schools.

“We continue to conduct more drills than required by the state for any crisis,” Barber said. “We have done training in the past and we will continue to do training.”

He said school administrators continue to learn from past events, unfortunate events, like last week’s school shooting in Florida.

“We will process that and see what we need to do differently,” Barber said. “Our plan continues to grow.”