School Shootings: Inventor creates device designed to slow down an active shooter

15 01 2013

As we know from the recent shooting tragedies in our country, most recently the school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, there is now much contentious discussion on what should be done to stop such shootings.  Some think it involves gun control laws; others feel it involves more training for citizens and teachers; and others feel it involves spending more more to bolster the mental health systems in the United States.  In all likelihood, it will probably involve some changes in all of the above.  And, as we all know, shootings will probably still take place.  There is no one magical solution that will stop the horror of shootings in malls and schools. 

However, one former teach in Pennsylvania has created a device that may add another piece of the puzzle; a piece that will not stop all shootings, but simply might slow down the ability of an active shooter to enter individual classrooms in a school.  This could be very important device since it seems that many of these shooters end their own lives at the first sign of intervention by law enforcement.  The key would seem to be to slow down the shooters ability to kill and give law enforcement more time to get to the scene to remove the threat.  Here is information from WTAE (Channel 4 News) in Pittsburgh:

Teacher’s invention won’t stop shootings, but can keep students safer
The elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has created a heightened awareness for students and teachers across the country as they prepare to return to the classroom after the holidays, but a Westmoreland County man’s invention could help keep them safer.

“We in law enforcement need to be speeded up as much as we can, and we need to be able to slow down the actor as much as we can so those two events cross paths,” said Penn Township Police Chief John Otto.

That’s where the JAMBLOCK comes in. The lightweight piece of steel was invented by a Bob Ploskunak, who spent a combined 35 years as a teacher and a security director for the Woodland Hills School District.

“It saves time. It creates time for the police to respond,” said Ploskunak.

The JAMBLOCK is already in classrooms and offices in two area school districts and has been drawing more interest since the Newtown shooting.

“Parents are starting to ask school districts, ‘What are they doing?’ Parents are more concerned now. They’re pushing the issue versus dusting off the old security plan,” said Ploskunak.

During an emergency, a teacher could place the JAMBLOCK under a classroom door and secure it in place. Even if someone broke through the glass and tried to nudge the handle, it still wouldn’t open.

“It’s not the answer, but it gets us closer to the answer, and that’s what we need to do,” said Ploskunak.

The JAMBLOCK costs about $80.

This appears to be an interesting invention.  I am not sure what law enforcement thinks about the invention.  And, there could be some issues related to health and safety codes, but it does offer a new way to think about how to improve school safety.  The video of the WTAE report can be found at:


Preparing for Active Shooter Incidents

24 09 2010

It appears that there seems to be a growing trend of shootings across the United States.  The Department of Homeland Security has recently issued information about Active Shooter incidents:

Recent shooting incidents at various locations of the United States seem to indicate rising violence at work places, and even at hospitals that were once considered safe havens.  However, the Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) has no credible evidence of a valid trend or pattern regarding active shooters.  Yet such threats still exist and it is best to prepare for the potential of a shooter , especially at places of work.

According to the Department of Homeland Security “Active Shooter” booklet (PDF, 984 KB), an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.  The booklet states: “In most cases, there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”

The booklet further explains that active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly.  Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims.  “Because active shooter incidents are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.”

 The EMR-ISAC verified that the booklet provides guidance to individuals, including responders, managers, and employees, who may be caught in an active shooter situation.  It also discusses how to react when law enforcement arrives at the incident scene.  Another useful source of information on this subject is the Mass Shooting/Active Shooter First Responder Awareness Card (PDF, 35 KB).