Could a teacher’s invention save your child’s life?

It’s the last thing a teacher wants to have to think about: what to do in case a shooter is in the building.

Mass shootings in the past year like Sandy Hook, and the one at an Oregon high school on Tuesday, have led a few middle school teachers in Muscatine, Iowa, to take action and invent a device that will protect their classrooms.

“The Sleeve” is a 12-gauge carbon steel case that fits around the door’s closer arm, securing the door from the inside. The Sleeve can withstand more than 550 foot-pounds of pressure, making it nearly impossible to open from the outside.

Daniel Nitzel, a teacher at West Middle School in Muscatine, got the idea from the school’s active shooter training.

“We were instructed to tie a belt or a cord around the closer arm. It seemed like a logical way to secure a door without having to go into the hallway, [but] it took us a long time to get a cord, stand on a chair, and tie a knot, which could potentially be the most important tie of your life.” said Nitzel.

“I can tell you in our training, all five rooms that the teachers were trained in; the doors were breached, the cords were ripped, and the officer who was portraying the active shooter came in and killed all of us,” Nitzel said.

That’s when Nitzel and his colleagues formed the company Fighting Chance Solutions and began designing blueprints for The Sleeve. He said it’s been ten months in the making, but they finally have it ready and waiting for patent.

“We look at it as a cheap insurance policy. If you have someone out in the hallway, and you have an active situation, a dangerous situation unfolding and [don't] want to go out into the hallway and lock your door, we want to provide you with a way to close that door,” said Nitzel.

The Sleeve is lightweight and compact, so it can be quickly applied and removed from the door’s opening mechanism in case of an emergency. It also allows the teachers to keep the door closed without having to enter the hallway to lock it from the outside, keeping them safe from harm.

“I think it’s a great product. It’s going to buy kids and teachers time for shootings,” said Muscatine Police Chief Brett Talkington. “These shooters [are] going to be pulling on the door. If them can’t get in, they’re going to move on.”

The Sleeve still awaits patent, but Muscatine Community College is fitting all their classrooms in their library and Larson Hall buildings with the device.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

7 comments

  • Fetti Chico

    Good idea but on the flipside… My question is what if a student shooter wants to use that bar to lock himself in the classroom and start shooting fish in a barrel. 550-pounds of pressure even the swat team would have a difficult time getting in. Maybe develop a way to get in the classroom from the outside that only the police and principle know. I'm all for security but it's still a shame schools have to resort to these measures.

  • CrabMan

    Just use the same lock technology as in prisons. Another approach is to repeal all the laws that prevent intervention with mentally ill or at risk individuals. Make teachers, healthcare workers, psychologists, psychiatrists report persons who could be likely to harm others or themselves. We do that with suspected child abuse. The medical community has been hiding behind their confidentially system for years. We've dumped people out of mental health facities with no other means of treatment or guided care. The either end up homeless on the streets or in jails. Ask Tom Dart. At least 40% of the inmates in the Cook Count Jail are mentally ill with no treatment. They end up back on the street in a matter of day or weeks.

  • Frank

    Don't get me wrong it's not a bad idea. But there are panes of glass right next to doors in most schools still allowing fairly easy access if a would-be attacker wanted to.

  • lunaticneko

    Sure it's not surefire proof, but any chance is better than no chance, and one second is better than zero seconds. It takes only a tiny fraction of a second to shoot to kill, so anything that can improve the odds is better than nothing.

    Even better, schools should have strong security presence and policy. I don't know about Americans, but my school is situated in Faculty of Education in a public university. That means we get two to three sets of security guards (school, faculty, and university) nearby. Parents in military/LEO also volunteer to be security, wear high-vis polos, checking ID and stuff if and when the school is open to public (during fairs, etc.)

  • theoldpoet

    The idea that a shooter would lock himself inside with his victims does pose problems. A better but disconcerting option would be to have all schoolroom doors controlled by a viewer in an impenetrable room who could lock down all rooms if a shooter was seen. Politically, having schools that resemble prisons would be a hard sell but safer.

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