An Asian American teacher has recently gone viral on TikTok after sharing the contents of her active shooter survival backpack in the wake of last week’s Texas elementary school shooting.
Kelsey Vidal, a first-grade teacher in Pittsburg, California, created the emergency backpack to protect herself and her students in the event of an active shooting.
@mrsvidal6 This is a tour of my classroom safety tools I have to keep my kids safe. This is one way to survive first grade… #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound – Kelsey Vidal
In one of her viral TikTok videos, which has already received more than 3.4 million views, Vidal shows “tools I would use to keep my students safe,” which include a bulletproof vest, metal plates, tourniquets and medical-grade scissors.
“I hope I never have to use this one, and I hope it literally collects dust like it has been,” she says, referring to her “active shooter, intruder backpack.”
@mrsvidal6 Bulletproof backpack I keep in my first grade classroom. I keep this closest to the door easily accessible. It has a two plates and a vest inside. #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound – Kelsey Vidal
@mrsvidal6 This is the actual backpack opened up turned into a vest. I can easily take out the bullet proof plates to give to a kid or another teacher if I needed to. I would do anything to keep my students safe. I know it looks crazy to have these, but you have to be prepared because now even going to school isn’t safe. #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teach #safety #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound – Kelsey Vidal
Besides the bulletproof backpack, Vidal has a metal bat at the ready. She also has a long metal bar in case she needs to barricade her classroom’s door, preventing potential intruders from entering.
“This is called the barracuda,” Vidal says in another video, holding the metal bar. “I actually put this on my wishlist my very first year of teaching along with crayons, books, that kind of stuff.”
@mrsvidal6 The barracuda door bar in action!! I store this next to my door in a cubby that is easily accessible. It’s not perfect, but it works for now because it’s quick! #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife #schoolsafety #school #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher #teachertok ♬ original sound – Kelsey Vidal
She shows how to use the metal bar as a barricade by making one end sit on the door frame and placing the other end on the door’s handle. She notes that this process can be done with just one hand, but teachers must conduct research before getting their own metal bars since their classroom doors might have bigger door hinges or swing inwardly, not outwardly.
Speaking to CNN, Vidal shared that she posted her TikTok videos to help other people feel safer inside their own classrooms.
“It’s crazy that it reached so many people,” she said. “And not just in the U.S., but Canada, Australia, the U.K. People were commenting, saying, ‘This is crazy that this is what you guys have to go through and prepare for. It’s almost like it’s a war zone.”
“My students know that the backpack is there,” she added. “I haven’t shown them that there’s a bulletproof vest in there and that there’s tourniquets to stop bleeding. When we’ve done an intruder drill, I took it out and just, to get in the motion of taking it out, I put the bar over the door and I just told them, you know, your job is to be quiet and listen to my directions so I can keep you safe.”
“My job, I will do everything in my power to keep you safe,” she added.
@mrsvidal6 Finding ways to better my system! It’s not perfect but at least it’s something. I can only do so much at the end of the day. This just makes me feel a little bit safer. Thank you for all of your ideas. Maybe we can get the companies to make different sizes so that I can fit more petite people! #teacher #school #teachersoftiktok #survivefirstgrade #survivefirstgrade #teacherlife #teacherlife #teach #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher ♬ original sound – Kelsey Vidal
@mrsvidal6 Here is the backpack in detail! I made small improvements and I am taking your suggestions to make it better! I’ll be showing how to use the tourniquet and the Israeli pressure bandage. I’ve been practicing over the weekend, and I’ll keep up with it! Every second counts! #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherlife #schoolsafety #firstgrade #firstgradeteacher #teachertok #backpack #practicemakesperfect ♬ original sound – Kelsey Vidal
During the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 21 people were reportedly killed, including 19 children aged between 7 and 10. The shooter, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, reportedly stormed the school with an assault rifle and tactical vest before he was shot and killed by a Border Patrol officer.
There have been at least 27 school shooting incidents across the U.S. so far this year. Education Week logged 119 school shooting incidents since 2018 when it began tracking reported cases. Last year’s number, 34, was reportedly the highest recorded number that the news outlet logged, as opposed to the 10 incidents in 2020 and the 24 incidents each in 2018 and 2019.
Featured Image via @mrsvidal6