Countdown to a Perfect Lockdown

teacher with students

If a teacher can lockdown before the threat enters the classroom, there is nearly a 100% chance that the threat will not be able to get into the classroom. School attackers don’t destroy doors. They try the handle and if it is closed and locked, they run to the next classroom.

School attacks are a race for the classrooms. 

We race to keep them out and they race to get in. Above all, we must keep them out!

Therefore, checking to see if a door is locked or not locked cannot be our training goal or the measure in which we weigh failure or success. Of course, the door must be locked but if it takes 38 seconds (the average time) to lockdown then that is too long, and we will lose the fight for the classrooms.

No, our goal and measurement for success must be to have all classrooms locked down in 7 seconds or less and not how many doors were found unlocked or signs of life detected.

With this in mind, I recommend the following:

  1. Use the PA to Clear from Lockdowns.
    For a teacher, having law enforcement clear the school from a lockdown is very valuable. It’s also extremely valuable for police officers to get familiar with the building. However, being able to lockdown in 7 seconds is exponentially more valuable to the teacher and students than how they are cleared from a lockdown.

    Achieving 7 seconds will take more practice. Currently, our lockdowns drills take too long because of the clearing segment. Instead, clear with the PA. This allow schools to do faster drills. Faster drills mean more drills. More drills equal greater proficiency and more secure classrooms!

    Clearing with the PA will make your drills as fast as…call the drill, lockdown, and release via the PA. It can take as little as 60 seconds and then you’re right back into academic mode.

    Instead of 4 drills a year, you can do 15 in the same amount of time as it takes to do one.
  2. Countdown to a Perfect Lockdown.
    To help sped up the teachers, do a countdown over the PA. Teachers start their lockdown when they hear you counting down and must have all of their critical steps complete when you finish.

    For example:
    This is a lockdown drill. This a lockdown Drill.
    7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    To be successful, the teacher must be in their hide position and have completed their critical steps before you finish counting.

    This will create pressure but not fear and will help your teachers to go faster!
  3. Get Teachers Involved.
    Lockdowns are something we do to teachers and not with teachers. We should get them more involved especially since we’re not clearing them from the lockdown. Survey them after each drill and have them share if they were successful. It can be as simple as…did you make it in 7 seconds? If not, what do you need to be successful? Is there anything I can do to help?

    Let the teachers take ownership in their progress by getting them more involved.
  4. Practice, practice, practice.
    Clearing by PA has one primary purpose—allows you to practice more drills. If you don’t increase your drills, don’t clear by PA. In truth, it will be a mistake to clear by PA if you don’t at least double your drills. This is an opportunity to save lives—take it and practice, practice, practice.

Final thoughts…I’m not in any way against law enforcement clearing lockdowns. I’m just 100% for speeding up lockdowns. The two critical necessities to make this happen is more drills and the countdown—not clearing. If you want to add law enforcement to clearing the lockdown—that would be great. You could use them every time or just a couple times a year. Whatever is best for you, but we must speed up our lockdowns to 7 seconds or less.

For the record, this is extremely fast and not initially easy to do. It takes practice!

Don’t start with 7 seconds. Instead, start with 17 or 12 seconds. You don’t want to cripple morale by trying it and failing. Do it the same way but with a higher number. Countdown from 17, 16, 15, and so on.

Seventeen seconds is a long time when teachers are encouraged to hustle with a countdown. Most schools will get it on the first time. If you achieve 90% success, shorten the countdown and practice again, and again, and again.

In fact, don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.


I have handouts, teacher surveys, scripts, instructional videos, and other materials you can use. If you’re on my mailing list, email me and I'll send you the information. If you're not, sign to receive these blogs and we'll put you on the mailing list.

If you would like pesonal help, I'm happy to visit your school and assist in explaining and training the staff as well as helping with actually drills.

Call or email to discuss how we can help.

I know using your PA may seem like a big leap. I’ve had hour long conversations (debates) with many others about why we must make this switch and I’m willing to discuss it with anyone—anytime.

Call or email and I’m happy to give you as much time as you’d like to discuss it. It’s that important.

Don's Blog

Sign up to receive more blogs, quick tips, videos, and other resources!

Don is available for district professional developments, Safe & Loved Vulnerability Assessments, and Leadership Coaching.

If you want to inspire your school and teachers to think of school safety in a different and more positive way, call or email...



PO BOX 474 Radford, VA 24143

Phone and text

(540) 577-7200


Copyright © 2019 Don Shomette