More Monthly Emergency Drills for Students in South Florida Following MSD Shooting

Some say increased number of drills is having negative impact on students

Code Red drills are now a part of life for Florida students in the year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Schools are required by state law to practice the drill once a month, barricading the doors with desks and file cabinets, turning tables over to act as bullet shields, and lying face-down on the floor behind the obstacles. That's in addition to drills for fire alarms once a month and tornado drills once to twice per year.

While security experts say this preparation could help save lives, not everyone supports how often they happen.

"It doesn't do anything for any of us to have more of these drills," said Carlos Rodriguez, who was a junior at MSD during the shooting. He doesn’t think the drills fully prepare students for the chaos that happens during a real emergency.

"When a shooter comes into your school, when people are dying, when people are in baths of blood, you're in a situation where you are going to feel a lot of emotion. Nobody prepared us for those emotions," said Rodriguez.

"The Code Red drill is insane," said Luz Sandoval, Rodriguez’s mother.

His mother worries about the emotional toll these drills have taken on him and his friends. They've taken part in five this school year already.

"At the very start of the school year, the drills were a problem for me. I figured out that they were one of my triggers. They brought back memories and agitation from February 14," said Rodriguez. "It made me sweat cold and it made me really stressed out so I went to get help."

His mom also worries kids will stop paying attention to drills if they happen too often.

"They are going to be 'That's normal. It's normal,'" said Sandoval.

Before the shooting in Parkland, all Broward public schools held 101 code red drills, combined. There wasn’t a code red drill held at MSD in the months before the shooting.

The MSD Commission in its report wrote that not having a drill left students and staff vulnerable.

In the last year, Broward School records show the drills are happening monthly since it was made law.

Outside of Parkland, several parents told NBC 6 it makes them feel better about their child’s safety.

"I prefer that my kid be trained and be ready if something happens," said mother Audrey Bagne.

And law enforcement officers like Officer Chris Christianson of Hollywood Police say when kids train over and over again for emergencies it becomes second nature for them to respond.

Christianson, who helped establish the protocol for code red drills throughout the county told NBC 6 last year that he believes the drills help empower students and buy time for law enforcement.

"It's to protect them for the two minute magic window before we can get here and end it," said Christianson.

But as a student who lived through the shooting at his school, Rodriguez worries about it happening again.

"It can still happen," he said. "Even if we have all these drills and the police presence. Somebody can come in with a weapon and do the same thing they did on February 14."

The school district told NBC 6 they’ve established a new policy on emergency codes including code red. The school board is expected to adopt it at a meeting next week. The new policy is supposed to "establish expectations on training and compliance with emergency codes at the highest level within the District."

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