School Solutions

Using Local Business to Bolster School Safety
By Bob Otter/School Administrator, March 2020

Last Nov. 13
,  Saugus High School choir teacher Katie Holt probably never thought she would use the bleeding control training she was provided or the bleeding control kit in her California classroom. The next day, Holt used both. As a result, she is the only reason one of her students is still alive today.

We don’t want to think, much less talk, about the threat of violence in our schools, but lockdown drills are commonplace, and staff are going through much more emergency response training than they ever did. 

I am the founder and CEO of citizenAID, but I am also a fire captain and have been in the fire and emergency medical services for 25 years. While wearing that hat, I spend a great deal of time training in our local schools. We practice integrated response with our law enforcement partners, we familiarize ourselves with every inch of school grounds and we practice for the day we hope will never come. 

Hardening of infrastructure is where most of the attention on school security is directed today. While it is vitally important to keep out bad people, just as much focus needs to address the question, what if we can’t? So many gun-related incidents in schools are being carried out by students themselves, which means we need to focus on preparedness from the inside-out not just the outside-in.  

Emergency Aid 
At citizenAID, we developed a training program and bleeding control first aid kits so staff have the skills and equipment to act in the seconds and minutes after someone is seriously wounded to save his or her life, just as Katie Holt did.

We know paramedics arrive at a scene within minutes but their response can be even longer when the scene first must be secured by police. Data from recent events show that securing a site takes from 20 to 60 minutes. We know if left untreated, someone with a severed artery can die in less than four minutes. You have less than four minutes to save a life.

Our goal is to get this vital information into the hands of 300 million Americans. We are doing that through our free app, which walks you through the steps needed to save a life, and our online training program. Our goal is to train one million teachers for free and our public treatment kits, which have the equipment and step-by-step instructions needed to stop life-threatening bleeding. 

Currently, we are in more than 7,500 classrooms across the country and we have trained nearly 15,000 teachers for free.  Our business model is a matching arrangement. If, say, a local business hires citizenAID to provide emergency first aid training to 100 staff members, then a local school district can get free training for 100 teachers.     

Public-Private Sectors  
Last summer, Park National Bank Corp. joined our mission to give back to teachers by training nearly 1,000 of the company’s retail employees via our online training. This resulted in a multiplier effect: citizenAID then matched the bank’s investment by providing 1,000 trainings in local school districts at no additional cost. The bank and their community partners then donated and placed citizenAID bleeding control equipment in 20 school districts in central Ohio.  

Park National Corp. is now rolling this program out across its 11 affiliate banks to grow a footprint of giving across more communities. Rep. Troy Balderson. R-Ohio, called citizenAID “a great example of a community empowerment program that brings public and private sectors together to make a positive change.” 

Funding new programs in a school district is not easy, but when school district leaders work with local business leaders it can become a Win, Win. Businesses give back to their local schools and their employees receive safety training at the same time.
To learn more about citizenAID’s National Prepared Schools initiative or to download our free life-safety app, visit

is founder and CEO of citizenAID in Granville, Ohio. E-mail: