One of the worst school shootings in U.S. history happened back in 2007 on the Virginia Tech Campus. Thirty-three people were killed, including the gunman.
Kristina Anderson was one of the survivors. Shot three times, some might say she’s lucky. But for Anderson, luck has nothing to do with it. She says survival is a byproduct of preparation.
“Statistically, active shooter events are very rare, but when they happen, they happen very quickly,” said Anderson. “They escalate, and its very important beforehand to have a plan.”
From her tragedy came growth. Anderson founded the Koshka Foundation for safe schools, a non-profit that helps educators increase personal safety awareness.
Partnering with law enforcement is crucial to the success of the program, which emphasizes improving campus safety, empowering student activism, and forging connections between survivors.
Jeff Solomon is the President of the Statewide University of Police Association at Sacramento State. He says partnering with educators is what will help make this program successful.
“I think so often in law enforcement we look at just the tactical side of things, not necessarily the impact it has on the survivors of these events and how we can make it better not just during the event but after,” said Solomon.
For many survivors of traumatic events like a school shooting, it’s the aftermath that can be the most difficult to overcome. For Anderson the memories of that horrific day on campus are still vivid.
“It’s not an event that I really expected to live through at 19 years old, but coming out of it, I realized that there are things we can do as individuals as institutions to help not only prevent these events but be able to respond a lot faster,” said Anderson.
Anderson says training law enforcement and educators can help ease the burden a survivor has to face after a significant trauma.
“It changed my view of life and appreciation and vulnerability,” said Anderson. “We want to share that message with people in a positive way so they can learn from it as well.”