A teacher’s gunshot wound kit saved a freshman girl during the Saugus school shooting
As our kids continue to be terrified at the prospect of a shooting happening at their school, teachers are also afraid — and doing all they can to prepare. The account of a young choir teacher from Saugus High School, the location of our nation’s most recent school shooting, is both harrowing and horrifying.
We can and should do better, America. Our kids and their teachers deserve so much better.
The New York Times tells the story of Kaitlin Holt, a 26-year-old choir teacher at Saugus High, where yesterday’s school shooting took place. Two children died of their injuries, a 16-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy, with three other people suffering wounds after a fellow student opened fire. It was a little after 7:30 AM when the massacre began, and Holt’s own students didn’t hear the shots, as they were listening to a recording of their own singing that drowned out the sound. It was only when other students rushed into the classroom screaming that the teacher and her class became aware of what was happening in the quad, where the attacker began shooting.
"She was shot in her side, and then she told me she thought she had been shot, as well, in her arm," choir teacher Katie Holt said. "I looked, and she had been shot in her shoulder, as well — but I only had one gunshot wound kit." https://t.co/ndH7juiuH3
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) November 15, 2019
Holt, who began teaching only this past January, wheeled her classroom’s grand piano to the door to block it and then guided dozens of students into an office with a locked door. They all sat quietly on the floor, knowing from prior lockdown drills to muffle their crying and to keep their phones on silent. The office lights were off and one student called police. Another located the fire extinguisher — just in case the shooter made his way to where they were hiding.
But they weren’t simply waiting it out — one of the students who ran for shelter in Holt’s classroom had been shot in her torso and abdomen. Luckily, the young teacher had a gunshot wound kit in her classroom that she used to wrap the teen’s wounds. She tells NBC News that she used her phone flashlight to check her injuries. “She was shot in her side, and then she told me she thought she had been shot, as well, in her arm,” Holt said. “I looked, and she had been shot in her shoulder, as well — but I only had one gunshot wound kit.”
With the help of what Holt describes as “a really brave freshman” named Tyler, they worked to stop the bleeding. Tyler held applied pressure to one wound while the teacher worked on the other. Throughout the horror of the situation, Holt says the young girl was “really strong.” “She was even joking with me. She said, ‘I’m going to be home-schooled after this.'”
“I really, truly did not believe that this was going to happen to me, which was really ignorant,” Holt tells the Times. “Every time this happens, in every interview, they always say that, and I still really thought it wasn’t going to happen.”
A lot of people were simply devastated at the fact that teachers even need to stock gunshot wound kits in their classrooms.
— Julia Pinney (@julia_pinney) November 15, 2019
— Kyle Pope (@kylepope) November 15, 2019
We live in a country where classroom teachers keep and use gunshot wound kits. Does anyone else find this absolutely outrageous? https://t.co/Yd24xiaFc0
— Rosemarie Rung (@rosemarierung) November 15, 2019
A teacher actually weighed in to let people know that not only do educators keep these kits in their classrooms — most pay for them out of their own pocket.
GSW kits aren’t issued, we teachers buy them out of pocket. $75-$100/kit. In my district, each hallway gets one bleeding control kit (tourniquets) per teaching team of 5 teachers. We were advised to keep tampons/Maxipads for GSW, too. #surrealnightmare #teacherproblems— Dad Is A Writer (@goldwordsonpage) November 15, 2019
People are simply in awe of the heroes that teachers are, but let’s be clear that this is a brand of bravery absolutely no teacher should need to possess.
With every school shooting, I’m struck by teachers & students describing how they raced into action, helped victims, comforted scared teenagers. They seem poised-it's probably more stunned shock.
And every time they say: "we prepared for this"
Thank a teacher today folks https://t.co/GKFqSa59Af
— Karen Travers (@karentravers) November 15, 2019
Later last night, Holt was informed that the student she helped came out of surgery and would be ok. While she was relieved, the rookie teacher is still working through the ordeal she experienced only hours earlier. “I don’t think I should have had to process this. I don’t think my kids, especially, should have to process this.”
“Long term, I hope that something can be done, because I think that a really big change needs to happen,” she said. “I held a bleeding child today in my classroom, in my music classroom.”