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FASTER Saves Lives: How Ohio is Arming and Training School Staff

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Following President Trump’s comments regarding arming teachers in our schools, the American Federation of Teachers issued a press release, predictably bleating about the proposal and wondering aloud about how such a thing was ever possible. ‘How would arming teachers even work?’ mused AFT President Randi Weingarten. Well, if she’d ever poke her head out of either one of her cozy Long Island or Washington, D.C., bubbles and look at what’s happening in flyover states, she might actually get a clue. — Iain Harrison, RECOIL

FASTER Saves Lives: How Ohio is Arming and Training School Staff

By Chris Cerino

The news is crazy these days with talk that runs the gamut from banning all semi-automatic guns to arming teachers and school staff. As a gun enthusiast, competitor and firearms trainer I’m definitely in favor of the latter.

In fact, for the past five years, I’ve been an integral part of training Ohio’s faculty and administrators. There’s an acronym for the program—FASTER.

FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response. FASTER was the brainchild of John Benner, Owner and director of training at Ohio’s Tactical Defense Institute (TDI).


Not long after the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012, Benner, in conjunction with concerned parents, law enforcement and nationally recognized medical experts created the FASTER program. At the time it was a groundbreaking idea and it caught the attention of Ohio’s Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA).

Working together, TDI and BFA brought the class to life. The kicker was that it was going to be fully funded by donations, so all of the training was provided to school districts at no cost. Attendees only had to pay for their lodging and ammunition.


The program itself is structured like a mini SWAT or Rapid Response to Active Shooters course. Three days of intense training that culminate by exceeding the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy requirements for firearms training. Yep, graduates are expected to outshoot state cops by the end of it. There are twenty-seven hours of instruction, including Immediate Casualty Care (ICC). FASTER is much more than just learning to stop bleeding, use or improvise tourniquets and provide medical aid. Medical aid is important and saves lives, but you know what saves more people? Stopping the killing.


Ohio’s program is completely voluntary and is not for the faint of heart. Besides the ICC, the three days include training in defensive mindset and history of active killers, firearms skills, tactics for hunting killers, locking down and/or ambushing, force on force scenarios for stress inoculation, weapon retention, deep concealment tactics and an Ohio Peace Officer weapons qualification with a minimum passing score of 92%. Ohio requires 80% of its officers.

After Sandy Hook, when the first classes were advertised to school districts in Ohio, there were 1200 prospective volunteer students waiting to be trained. That’s when the organizers knew they were about to be overwhelmed and I was honored to be asked to assist.

The student lists grew after each class and before the end of the first year, we decided that prospective students had to have their Ohio Concealed Carry Handgun License before attending, as a means to pre-select candidates. It cut down the list for the next year but numbers were still high.


Each class inevitably has failures or dropouts. Some voluntarily quit after the initial mindset portion, deciding that they couldn’t handle the daunting task before them. Failures at qualification are understandable, given we were demanding that educators outperform sworn LE, so collectively we decided to create an eight-hour primer course. This was to be solely firearms training, designed to give students a head start, and we selected preferred trainers to provide the instruction. The primer course is mandatory, and it gives students solid basics and lays out before them what is going to be expected of them at the three-day class.

To date BFA and the FASTER program has trained some 1300 teachers, administrators, maintenance staff and even school bus drivers. Some districts in Ohio proudly advertise that they have armed staff on premise to protect their students. Others keep it a closely guarded secret.

Not everyone who attends the FASTER program comes from a district that will allow them to carry after attending. These students commit to training on their own time, in the hope of getting a head start when the program is implemented in the schools in which they work.


None of the training is designed to replace police or EMTs, but to allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel on-site to stop school violence rapidly and render medical aid immediately. They’re the guys who are there on site, and it’s a safe bet that an adequate response immediately executed is better than a SWAT team that responds in time to identify bodies. When seconds count, police are minutes away and many of the trainees know it. The goal is to stop the killing. This could mean ambushing and killing the shooter, or simply changing his focus from the slaughter of unarmed children to self-preservation and retreat. Fact– no one wants to get shot, even a sad-sack cowardly shitbird.

FASTER has gained momentum and even funding from the State of Ohio. The classes have been sought from outside the program’s home state. Last year we began a FASTER division in Colorado. This year, FASTER will be back to Colorado for two more classes and one in Wyoming.



Chris Cerino has 26 years Law Enforcement experience. He is an internationally known trainer and speaker and has been training law enforcement officers, military operators and civilians for most of those years. A published writer on the topics of firearms training and instructional skills, he continually pursues validation of skill and the skills he teaches by competing nationwide.
Email: [email protected]

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