Is MHS Safe?

Community leaders and school officials discuss what they are doing to keep our schools safe.


After the last school shooting in Parkland, Florida, we decided as a staff we wanted find out how safe our school is. What we found out was that there are a lot of people looking out for us. We asked several leaders from the community that had anything to do with school safety to join in a forum hosted by our Co-editor Hali Rasmussen to discuss our concerns and to reassure our students that people are working extremely hard to make sure we are safe when we come to school everyday. The following story is the information that will help you decide whether or not you think our school is as safe as we now feel it is.

History behind the tragic events

The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26,1764. Four Lenape Indians entered into the school house and there were 12 total people in the school house with only two known survivors.

 There have been way too many school shootings in the United States. More and more happen throughout the years, but they really start increasing during the 1970’s then after that the number really rises.

There were 30 school shootings during the 70’s and there were 40 during the 80’s. Sadly the number increases exponentially during the 90’s with a total of 62 school shootings.This means there were about 6.2 shootings a year.

Many of these were suicides in front of classmates or in some cases alone in the bathroom. But in some cases, many students and teachers have been injured like in Cokeville, Wyoming where 2 people died and over 74 people were injured.

Most of the kids that shot someone at school were just after one or two specific people. Most of the people that shot themselves were trying to make a point. Some of the others just had it out for people. It all just depended on the mental aspect of the shooter.

Some of the worst shootings have killed a lot of people like Columbine High School which had 15 deaths and almost double that number were injured. Virginia Tech shooting was one of the worst school shootings in America with around 33 deaths and 23 more injured. The most recent shooting was the one in Parkland, Florida on February 14.  Nikolas Cruz, age 19 told police he was responsible for shooting and killing 17 people. 

There have been many different suggestions on better safety throughout the years but most recently, we have heard many arguments about arming teachers with firearms. Others have mentioned that if there were more officers or ex-marines stationed at the schools, they could provide more mental and physical protection.


What would you do?

With school shootings happening more and more, school safety is very important. When things like this happen, it leaves the question, “What would I do?” We asked students and counselor about how they would react.

BB: What would I do?

A: “If a school shooter came into our school, I would hide with the rest of the class, I would definitely be scared but it’s important to stay calm in a situation like that,” Junior Ethan Warn said.

BB: When a lock down happens where will you go?

A: “When a lock down happened I would go to the nearest classroom. If it was too late to get into a classroom or if I was outside, I would just leave,” Senior Coy Backstein said.

BB: What are warning signs should we look for in a person?

A: “Warning signs in a person might be like if they start secluding themselves from other people or posting suggestive things on social media. Also if they act very violent or talk about extremely violent things or being unusually depressed,” Junior Andrew Haws said.

BB: Do you feel safe at MHS?

A: “I do feel safe. Because this is Rexburg. Not a lot happens here. If the situation arose to where I needed to defend myself i feel like i could,” Juniour Andrew Haws said.”

A: “No,I don’t feel safe here. There’s only 1 person that could really do anything and that is the resource officer. If the teachers could carry {guns} the school would me a much safer place,” Junior Matthew schiff said.

BB: What the long term effects of a shooting would be?

There would be many long term effects. The biggest one would be a lot of stress, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder would be the most prevalent with any crisis. Anything that would be causing students to worry, to feel anxious and have a traumatic experience that they would not know how to process and know how to deal with those emotions. PTSD would be the largest thing to deal with”

— Mr. Jones

For answers to these questions from School Safety Official Randy Lords, Counselor Kevin Jones, and Hospital Administrator Doug Mcbride, watch the video.

The Mental Aspect

The Florida school shooting was the first time that the perpetrator has been taken alive, so it is hard to really understand what is going on in someone’s mind when they carry out an act as terrible as a school shooting. Paul Roberts, who has been a social worker and counselor since the early 90’s, gave some insight into what could be happening in the minds of a shooter.

“I have been a social worker since the early 90’s. I have worked in child protective investigations. I spent some time working at State Hospital South here in Eastern Idaho, the state mental health institution. I have been on the mental health crisis team in Idaho Falls. I have also worked with the severe persistent mentally ill. I have also done some private counseling,” Paul Roberts said.

In his interview with Bobcat Beat, Roberts talked a lot about what could possibly trigger someone into doing a crime such as a school shooting.

“It’s hard to really know the process that someone’s brain has gone through to find out what actually motivated them to do that. You expect some horrible thing to have triggered them, Inspired by a radical group, some type of tragedy, a mental illness. There are many and varied causes. There could be some out of touch with reality psychosis . There can also just be some hate towards teachers or other students. There could be some bullying happening. It is definitely a way to make a statement and that is basically the bottom line of the issue. They are either delusional or they are just fed up with the way people have been treating them so they are going to go teach people a lesson,” Roberts said.

Someone who is struggling with violent thoughts, or even actions, sometimes just need to be understood. They are going through something hard that they feel needs to be solved in ways that will just make it worse.

“From the mental health care side, I think that understanding what individuals are experiencing is helpful. That is very difficult. We study signs and develop a system to not only intervene, but to treat them in a way that is helpful. Help them to recover. Any time you resort to behavior whether it is a school shooting or suicide, those are permanent solutions to temporary problems. People who are in those situations sometimes don’t realize that in two weeks you will see the world differently,” Roberts said.

If you see someone struggling, don’t think that it isn’t your issue. Help them out. Most of the time this will help stop someone from doing something that will cause harm to themselves, or others.

“There is a part of mental distress that is just growing up, facing life and realizing that you deal with stress everyday. The art of identifying people who haven’t had a history of violent behavior but are at the point that they are going to have a break and become violent,” Roberts said.

Roberts gave some advice to people who may be struggling or even to the people who are seeing the warning signs in friends or families.

There is always hope. There is always hope. There is no reason why someone has to deal with life on their own. If you know that someone is struggling with these violent thoughts help them out. There are ways around the pain, that can be more effective than ruining your life, and other people’s lives. There is always another solution.”

— Paul Roberts

Is the hospital prepared?

We wanted to find out how the hospital is prepared if something were to happen in our community. Doug Mcbride came and talked with BB about what they are doing to be prepared.

The hospital is prepared for any sort of event like a school shooting. All employees are on-call at all times so they can get anyone there fairly quickly whenever needed. They have special procedures and training in case anything were to happen.They can even life flight people to other hospitals if they run out of room.

“Everybody in the hospital environment is on-call all the time. If we got to an area where we were overcrowded, we actually have access to life flight, so if we needed to send them out to other facilities our feeder hospital would be Irmac in Idaho Falls. Do we have enough people? Yes, if not,we have those outer sources available,” Doug McBride said.

If there happened to be a school shooting at Madison, or in our community, there are people even trained to handle the press and people that are wanting to know information about the victims.

“We would have spaces set up for family or friends or those who are associated with the patients or individuals and we would have them in a particular area as well. We work very closely with our law enforcement to help us keep in track of what’s happening,” McBride said.

For the students that ever find themselves in a situation like this, there are things you should and should not do. There are ways you can help but you also need to be careful.

In a crisis shooting situation, if the shooter is still there, you are in a situation where you need to take care of yourself. If you can pull an individual to safety obviously take care of that, but if it’s after the shooter has left, obviously the bleeding is the biggest thing you need to make sure that you’re stopping that. Then hopefully the paramedics will be there quickly an be able to assist in that area.”

— Doug Mcbride

 McBride said.

The Local Emergency Preparedness Committee (LEPC) gets together and does training as well. This includes the police department, the hospital, and the schools.

“Training is going on constantly. Within the hospital we have certain protocols where we’ll go through shooting situations, we go through different scenarios in the hospital. We are actively communicating with our law enforcement, with our schools, so we understand what’s happening,” McBride said.

There are lots of people that struggle everyday in our community. It is important to recognize signs when someone is struggling so they can get help and not turn into

“Right now currently the hospital is seeing close to 1-2 patients per day that are coming into our ER that are suicidal, have attempted suicide or have those tendencies. We need to be aware of that,” McBride said.

How is the school keeping students safe?

With school shootings becoming more common throughout the U.S. one of the biggest questions students have is how are the schools keeping us safe while here?

“Right now we are looking at our whole safety structure here, we’re looking at the number of doors that are opened and closed during the school day and we will be readdressing that very quickly within the next little bit,” Mr. Busby said.

To prepare for anything that may happen, we also practice drills so that if anything ever did happen, we would know what to do.

“In our district here all of our principals are required each year to a at least one evacuation and one lock down, most of our principals do at least once a month, some a little longer than that but it’s the thought of thinking about it and preparing for it” Mr. Lords said.

There are different kinds of drills to practice so that the school will be prepared for any kind of emergency.

“We practice evacuation drills, shelter in place, and a lock down. An evacuation drill is when we actually take people off campus like a fire drill. Shelter in place means we lock the front doors and no one comes in or out of the building but school still takes place, we’ll switch classes but no one leaves, the other one is a lock down entirely, the doors are locked and we wait for police officers at that time” Mr. Busby said.

With shootings happening more often, schools need to be more prepared for something like that to happen.

“I think we’ve moved to a time and place that we need to have in our minds not if it will happen but when and prepare that way. I don’t think we need to talk doomsday, but I think it’s important.  The last time we had students in a school die in a fire was 1958. After 1958 they put in the fire alarms. The fire suppression systems were all required by law in schools.” Mr. Lords said.

Do you feel safe at MHS?

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