MUSCATINE, Iowa — On Wednesday, June 1, a shooter situation unfolded at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Muscatine-designed safety product, The Sleeve, kept students and staff safe.
Dan Nietzel, of Fighting Chance Solutions in Muscatine, received an email on Thursday from Art Rocha, the Preparedness and Safety Coordinator at David Geffen School of Medicine in the Neurobiology Department at UCLA saying the Sleeve had been used during the shooting, and it worked.
The Sleeve was developed by Nietzel and four other teachers in the Muscatine School District: Edwin Colon, John Lawrence, Jame Hayes and Mike Morgan.
The small piece of 12-guage carbon steel is designed to slip over the arm at the top of the door that allows the door to close by itself, and prevents the door from being opened.
Rocha said he used The Sleeve during the tense lockdown on UCLA's campus.
"It worked great and there was no way anybody was going to get in. Watching the news I saw students tying belts and whatever they could to try to secure the door, if they had that they wouldn't have to worry," Rocha said.
He said they received a text message that gave specifics of where the event was occurring and that there were possibly two shooters, and because the building was located across from the engineering building, Rocha immediately began directing the department to go into lockdown.
"And then you start thinking how many shooters and where are they. Unfortunately, the engineering building is across the street from us, and I remember The Sleeve, so I put it up there and we're all sitting here, our boss happened to be outside of the office, so he was in a rush to get into the office. So he pushed it and, wham, it didn't open. It made us feel a lot more comfortable," Rocha said.
He said that his boss was able to enter the room through the back entrance, for which an order has already been placed to provide another Sleeve.
Nietzel said that although they always hope The Sleeve will not be needed, the tragic event showed it could withstand a shooting situation.
"We've tested it we know that it works and we know the concept behind it but until it's in that situation someones using it and it's tested you wonder how it's going to react," he said.
He and the other teachers developed The Sleeve in response to what they felt were inadequate safety measures taught to them in an active shooter training in the district. Nietzel said the email from Rocha reminded him that the work they put into it was worth it.
"Sometimes you wonder why you're doing what you're doing and then you get an email like this," Nietzel said.
And that, Nietzel said, is what Fighting Chance Solutions is all about.
"To think that this small town, Muscatine, Iowa, company was able to be there in that situation and give them that level of comfort....it's pretty cool affirmation out of a really unfortunate event," he said.