TAYLOR COUNTY—It seems almost daily that news comes in of another shooting, where people are injured, and lives are lost. Just yesterday, it was reported that two people were killed, and one was injured during a shooting at a Texas A&M-Commerce residence hall.
Recently, the Rotary Club of Grafton made a trip to the Taylor County Board of Education Office to speak with board members about this very serious issue the nation is facing.
Although Taylor County has never been faced with the occurrence of a school shooting or a mass casualty shooting, there is always the threat that it could happen.
Communities across the nation were shaken as the news spread of the April 1999 Columbine High School shooting. In the time since, school shootings have occurred across the United States every year, but luckily the residents in Taylor County have been untouched by such an event.
“For over 20 years, students, teachers and parents have lived with the reality of school shootings,” Westfall noted. “While the country had debated how to prevent these nightmares, the number of incidents keeps increasing.”
According to the Center for Homeland Security and Defense, the number of gun related incidents in U.S. schools k-12 roughly doubled to 116 in 2018.
“Last year was almost as bad, with 111 shootings. That one incident every other school day,” shared Rotarian Ed Westfall.
He added that the Gun Violence Archive has defined a mass shooting as an occurrence where four or more individuals are injured by a firearm.
“According to this definition, there were 417 mass shootings in the United States in 2019,” Westfall revealed. “That more than one per day!”
While residents have never experienced such an occurrence within the boundaries of the county, local individual’s lives have been touched by the horror and sadness of school shootings.
“Unfortunately, in the shooting at Saugus High School, in Santa Clarita, California, a gunman entered the school and killed two of his classmates before he was shot by police,” Westfall disclosed. “One of our Rotarians is the grandmother of a student at the school, who was there the day of the attack and witnessed it.”
The Grafton Rotary Club, determined to make sure schools are stocked with lifesaving supplies they would need in the event of a mass shooting, began their initiative with the Stop the Bleed campaign.
The Stop the Bleed campaign focuses on learning life saving measures that can be taken in the event of a serious bleeding event. Through the movement, bystanders, civilians and non-medical persons can be trained to stop or slow life-threatening bleeding.
So far, over one million people have been trained nationwide.
According to stopthebleed.org, most Stop the Bleed courses last no more than 90 minutes, and a formal presentation is followed by hands-on practice of applying direct pressure, packing a wound, and using a tourniquet to stop bleeding.
In an effort to help supply the county’s schools with lifesaving supplies and techniques, the Rotary Club went to work. They began compiling a list of areas in the schools that would most benefit from Stop the Bleed kits stocked with such supplies.
“We believe that a minimum of 12 of these wall mounted kits would be needed. Each Bleeding Control Station contains eight individual bleeding control packs,” Westfall said. “Each of these packs contains a tourniquet, gloves, scissors, blood clotting gauze, and a shock blanket.”
The total cost of the 12 kits needed came in at $10,020.
In what he called a down payment for the program, the Grafton Rotary Club gifted three of the kits to the Board of Education, at a cost of $2,505. In return, the BOE pledged to purchase an additional three Bleeding Control Stations.
Later that same evening, Westfall received a call from the Grafton Lions Club, who had voted during their meeting to match those donations, with three kits of their own.
“We know that there are more than just the minimum 12 kits needed, so we are asking that anyone who would like to contribute to do so,” said Grafton Rotary President Greg Cartwright. “We already have an idea where we could start placing additional kits.”
Donations may be made through the Rotary’s Stop the Bleed for Our Local Schools Go Fund Me page, charity.gofundme.com/StopTheBleed4Schools.
Those who would like to may also mail checks, made payable to The Education Endowment of the Rotary Club of Grafton, Inc., to The Education Endowment c/o Lorraine Isner Treasurer, 224 McGraw Ave, Grafton, WV 26354.
“I would ask that you please consider making a donation, and to pray for our kids that we never need to use it,” Cartwright. “When you hear that a school shooting happens almost every other day, those numbers should really speak to you.”