Teachers as First Responders in the Aftermath of Catastrophic Events


Teachers as First Responders in the Aftermath of Catastrophic Events

The following is an excerpt from the report Teachers as First Responders in the Aftermath of Catastrophic Events. PDF Download link below. Photo: Parkland survivor Aalayah Eastmond Testifies at Kavanaugh Hearing 2018.

Gun Violence in America

Aalayah Eastmond is one of the few young Americans to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing. But she is also one of the many children and young people who have experienced a school massacre and are in recovery from gun violence in America.

Ms. Eastmond is an African American student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, and she testified against the nomination of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh who is supported by the NRA among other conservative pro-gun organizations. Aalayah spoke eloquently, providing the Senate Judiciary Committee with graphic, gut-wrenching, and heart-breaking descriptions of what happened to her during the mass shooting. She described how she lay beneath one of her dead friends who had fallen on her when he was shot by the shooter. She spoke of human matter being removed from her hair in the immediate aftermath of the massacre. And she also spoke of her mother having a miscarriage because of the trauma she experienced not knowing if her daughter was alive or dead.

Aalayah’s testimony was memorable and so were her responses when the Senators questioned her. When Senator Blumenthal asked her how she would respond to Brett Kavanaugh’s opposition to an assault weapon ban, she said,  “My life, along, with the life of all the other youth, is more important than that gun.” Then, when Blumenthal asked her to describe the real-world impact of an assault weapon, she said, "That gun ended 17 lives on February 4, that gun ended lives at Sandy Hook, that gun ended lives all over the country. He needs to listen to us, because our lives are just as important as any American's freedom to own a gun."

Aalayah’s response stands in stark contrast to the opinion of Brett Kavanaugh who stated during his nomination hearing that the AR15 is a semi-automatic weapon in “common use” and that it is protected by the Second Amendment. For Aalayah and her fellow students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, knowing that the gun used to kill their classmates is thought to be protected by the U.S. Constitution puts them at odds with all they have been taught about the rights and responsibilities of being American, and has the potential to deepen the psychological and emotional traumas that they have experienced.

The AR15 is not a hunter’s gun of choice. It has no purpose other than for the killing of people. So the “common use” of which Brett Kavanaugh spoke includes the many massacres that have taken place of children studying in schools, congregations singing in churches, people walking along the street, families watching movies, friends attending live music concerts and people joyously dancing with people they love.

Extreme Weather Events and Ecological Disasters

Knowing that guns are protected more than children, or that anyone living or visiting the United States can be shot or killed by this big-money interpretation of the US Constitution, complicates the lives of all Americans, but especially the lives of children and adults who have experienced gun violence, who have been shot themselves or have witnessed the shooting of people in their local communities and the familiar places where we gather.

In American we know that guns are worth more than us. We also know that men in power still control the narrative on climate change and that, just as with guns, the big commercial fossil energy producers and polluters value their CO2 producing energy sources more than they value their own children. To obfuscate the truth about what’s happening to the planet, official climate change documents on government websites are being removed, and vast amounts of scientific research documenting the great acceleration of extreme weather events and ecological disasters are no longer available to the public.

The redaction of scientific knowledge is the book burning of the 21st century, and we know that every aspect of our children’s lives will be negatively impacted by the adverse consequences of human activity on the planet. New climate science provides indisputable scientific evidence that the lives of today’s children and young people will be impacted by the rapid increase in extreme events such as heat waves, the collapse of ice sheets and mass extinctions, and that the necessities of their lives, including food, water and shelter will be in jeopardy.

In real–life terms the obfuscation and redaction of scientific knowledge by rich and powerful men stands in contrast with the lived experience of so many “ordinary” people, who have neither power or privilege but are living with and dying from the consequences of their actions.

(End except, download the full report)

Report (.PDF) Includes

  1. Gun Violence in America

  2. Extreme Weather Events and Ecological Disasters

  3. Teachers as First Responders in the Aftermath of Gun Violence & Extreme Ecological Disasters

  4. First Responses in Shelters When Catastrophic Events Take Place

  5. First Responses in Schools

  6. Learning from Teachers who were First Responders in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

  7. Trans-System Emergency Preparedness in Schools for Educators and Public Health Providers

  8. An abbreviated list of the recommendations of LaCour’s report

  9. Bibliography

FeaturesDenny Taylor