In today's episode of "what kind of dystopian horror show are we living in today?" Gizmodo reports that the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, a tool developed by the US Army and Homeland Security to help train police, fire departments, EMS, and other first responders to handle emergency situations, is now being updated to include schoolteachers.
Edge, as it's known, will present an first-person scenario of a school shooting from different perspectives: The teacher, who must keep students together and controlled, and find a (relatively) safe place to hide; the shooter, who aims to murder as many helpless people as possible, including respected, experienced educators, young teachers with bright eyes and boundless ambitions, and of course innocent children who will never have a chance to live their lives; and the police, whose job it is to kill the shooter without accidentally shooting anyone else.
"The more experience you have, the better your chances of survival are," Tamara Griffith of the Army Research Laboratory in Orlando says in the video. "This allows you to practice and have multiple experiences, know what works and what doesn't work."
Griffith said that a mother of a child who was murdered at Sandy Hook assisted with the creation of the scenario, which enabled the developers to more realistically emulate how a school shooting unfolds. They also listened to dispatch audio from Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech for a better understanding of what happens during an actual mass murder of children. The simulation incorporates a number of different variables, such as intercom systems, automated locks, and panic among children and adults, and prompts users to take different actions that lead to different outcomes dependent on the circumstances.
"[Teachers] did not self-select into a role that they expect to have bullets flying near them. That's something that they did not choose as their career," Griffith says. "Unfortunately, it's becoming a reality, and so we want to give them that chance to understand what options are available to them and what might work well for them."
While the intentions driving the creation of this tool are good, what does it say about the state of our society that we need to train schoolteachers as if they're emergency responders—and my God, how did we get here?
The Edge simulation runs on a Core i5-based PC with 8GB RAM and a GTX 460 GPU. It's free, but access is restricted to law enforcement, fire fighting, "for-profit emergency medical services," and other emergency management organizations at the federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial levels—surely a good thing, because I can't imagine Twitch would be a good forum for thoughtful exploration of violence. The school shooter scenario is expected to be available to these groups in the spring.