Kelsey Vidal is a first grade teacher with all the things you might expect in her classroom: cubbies full of art supplies, posters along the wall, bright colors, and, perhaps the most necessary, an active shooter preparedness backpack.
In a viral video with nearly 4 million views, the 29-year-old shows two backpacks. The first of which, she says, "was given to us by the school. This is what we use for fire drills when we practice evacuating the school for whatever kind of emergency [preparedness] they think that we need."
"I hope I never have to use this one," Mrs. Vidal continues, exposing the second backpack underneath. "I hope it literally collects dust like it has been, but this is my active shooter, intruder backpack."
With the help of her mother, brother, and father, Mrs. Vidal collected supplies they felt were necessary in a dangerous situation, including tourniquets to stop major bleeding, pressure bandages, scissors to cut through jeans or shirts if need be, bulletproof plates and vests, and more medical supplies.
Also located in Mrs. Vidal's classroom is a bat and a door barracuda, which is a defensive system that locks down swinging doors within seconds.
Throughout the comment section on Mrs. Vidal's video, viewers agree that while they appreciate her preparedness and recognize its necessity, they are also sad that active shooter situations have become a reality for students and teachers alike.
To learn more about what it's like for teachers who are now forced to consider the possibility of gunshot wounds and how to save the lives of their students, BuzzFeed reached out to Mrs. Vidal, who talked about her first active shooter training. "My first year at Los Medanos Elementary, we had an ALICE training at school. This company trains you for what to do during an active shooter scenario."
"I remember that we were given five minutes to try and barricade the door as best as we could, using any materials we could find," Mrs. Vidal continued. "We all took this seriously because we knew that this unfortunately is a scary reality for teachers. We used computer cords, chairs, desks, etc., and they still were able to open the door within 10 seconds!"
"I went home freaked out about how easily they got inside. I kept thinking, 'I am not prepared and, in real life, we aren't going to be given 5 minutes to try and find things that work.'
I went and talked to my family, asking them to help me find something quick and easy to use."
"[I] bought [the backpack] because it would protect my front and back," she said. "There were pockets for me to store medical supplies, [and] if we ever had to run off campus, it was easy to take it with me. Or if we were stuck inside with no help, I had the supplies to help."
"I have a level 3+ plate in the front from my brother. He bought this as a personal plate to use when he went somewhere with large crowds. He ultimately gave it to me thinking that I would have more use for it as a teacher, since schools are a high-risk target.
The plate in the back is also a level 3+ that my dad gave me. He is a retired reserve cop, and he also gave me his old Kevlar vest. All three plates are easy to take out if I ever need to give it to a student or fellow staff member."
While she hopes she never has to use the backpack, Mrs. Vidal acknowledged that it's always a looming possibility. "Unfortunately, I can't say that it won't ever happen to me or my school. I'm sure that is what those [Uvalde] teachers thought too," she said. "It does cause a lot of anxiety when I hear another story about a mass shooting involving students. It has become my biggest fear as an educator. Any child, any student, should not have to die going to school [and] getting an education. I have the backpack in my classroom so that I am prepared. I would rather have it now instead of wishing I had it if there was ever an active shooter."
"Teachers should have some kind of protective gear," she said. "It does not have to be the backpack, even a vest would be great. ... We should be given materials to stop bleeding. ... Teachers should be given more security materials, like a door bar, since it is a real threat to all schools.
Teachers should be prioritized and given things that make them feel safe. The district gives us an emergency bag but it [only] has Band-Aids and a binder telling us what to do in an emergency. With a real possibility of an active shooter, we need to be prepared. Schools NEED to step up their safety procedures!"