Chris Dorn

An analyst from an international non-profit group that conducts school safety training has been in two Iowa cities this week. Chris Dorn of “Safe Havens International” spent Tuesday in Fort Dodge. On Monday, he was in Algona, meeting law enforcement, school staff and the public.

“It’s really nice to get the message out and talk about a cohesive approach to lots of different stakeholders,” Dorn said.

One of the points Dorn emphasized is that making a school safe involves more than just locking doors and keeping people out.

“Schools have risks every day and we’ve seen for hundreds of years risks of medical emergencies, natural disasters, severe weather, violence — any number of things,” Dorn said. “…We need to train school staff to be able to recognize danger and respond quickly to it, no matter whether it’s a shooter or an allergic reaction.”

While Dorn offers advice on expensive things like security cameras, Dorn also points to research suggesting school violence is often perpetrated by students who do not have the influence of a caring adult in their lives.

“Some of the most valuable things and impactful things in school safety are those relationships,” Dorn said, “those intangible things that may not cost anything.”

Dorn’s organization conducts safety assessments. The group also provides schools with books and videos that cover a number of safety issues — including whether teachers and school staff should be armed with a gun.

“We ask people, basically, to think very intentionally about safety and their personal security,” Dorn said.

Dorn has recently authored a book titled: “Staying Alive: How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters.”

(By Brian Wilson, KLGA, Algona/Photo courtesy of Safe Havens International)