This teacher’s invention could save your child’s life

Teacher invents classroom protectorMUSCATINE, Iowa (WQAD) — 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 Muscatine middle school teachers 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 they 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.

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80 comments

  • George

    Not sure how this piece of metal is the next cool idea on the block. It’s kinda ridiculous considering we have deadbolt companies that have been in the security business for ages. Just install a deadbolt and be done with it… All this press you’d think we just invented sliced bread

      • Mike

        Many schools have metal doors with metal frames. Properly installed deadbolts in such material will not be kicked in because there is no wood to split/break.

      • Hmmm

        Mike, many schools DON’T have metal doors, and it’s much more expensive to replace all the doors than it is to install this device on each door.

    • Adam

      Why would they just lock the door? In schools, you typically have solid core wood doors in hollow metal frames. With a good lockset that can be locked from the inside (which is a standard classroom lockset function), this product is not even necessary. And a good lockset in a hollow metal frame is not at all easy to kick in.

      • KP

        The problem is that most classrooms don’t lock from the inside to prevent students from locking out their teacher. And in case of a shooting I don’t feel like it would be ideal to put a teacher at risk to go outside in the hallway to lock the door.

    • Ed

      The reason a dead bolt is not used now is because the National Fire Code and National Life Safety Code pretty much made it impossible to use and still comply with the codes. I’ve designed, maintained, and installed high end security systems and access control systems for the last 20 years, and these codes have made it harder and harder each year.

  • Scott

    Many classrooms like mine had a deadbolt with key only from the outside to prevent the students lacking the teachers out. Plus I usually stuck my keys in my briefcase or desk. There would be little time to lock the door if a shooter entered. I think it’s a great idea if I needed to secure a door quickly or if I needed to let a student in then slide it back on fast. Also, most of the shooters were very quick to get as many shots off as possible. They were trying doors then moving on. I don’t think any were fighting with a door…they just kept moving.

    • Bryan

      Typos happen. You should also check your statement condemning someone else’s grammar and spelling to make sure you’re squared away yourself.

    • Michael

      Glenn,
      He didn’t say he was an English teacher! If you are so worried about his grammar, I think you are missing the big picture regarding this link. We are looking for ways to save lives not looking for spell check.

      • Scott

        Glenn, I want to apologize for my poor grammar and spelling. As you can see, it was almost 1am when I wrote that abstract thought on the situation at hand. However, before you “mark my papers,” make sure you proofread your own responses. You missed a comma, “fear for our children” is incorrect unless you are a parent, your sentences are not conjoined by a clear and precise thought and you lack imagination.

        Next time, you should try and look at the big picture. I was stating how it isn’t easy to deadbolt a door during a crisis situation. First, you can’t have the deadbolt on during the school day because it’s a fire hazard. Second, trying to get to your keys during that situation is very confusing. You are required to remember where you placed them, make sure the kids are safe and not in a shooting advantage and account for every kid in your class.

        I’m sure because you took the time to critique my grammar you are: a) an educator b) have no life c) had a teacher or school “do you wrong.” As said in other responses to your short and insignificant diatribe, you are “clueless” and need to educate yourself. Get out of your mom’s house, contribute to society and try not to reproduce…we would all “fear for our children” and yours as well.

    • Jessica

      Glenn that was completely uncalled for and I fear more for our children that there are people like you in the world who care more about insulting others typos/spelling/etc. than the actual big picture-which is saving our kids’ lives in case you didn’t catch that.

  • Travis

    I love the idea of this, but I don’t think it’s right that these are going to be patented. They should be given to schools across the nation restriction-free. How will schools with small budgets pay for these?

    • Bryan

      Materials aren’t free, labor isn’t free, so why should there not be a fee for this product if it works? You know the federal government won’t pay for this because it’s not “essential” like books, paper, markers, chalk, teachers.

    • Doug

      If the creators didn’t patent it, someone else could and would. Patents protect the creator of the item. Having a patent doesn’t mean high prices are guaranteed or that they won’t allow teachers to make them themselves, but does allow for controlling interest to decide. I doubt these teachers are looking to get rich with this invention. But someone (or some company) is going to have to build these. There will be material and production costs involved. So they won’t be free. This just allows the patent holder to control who has the right to build them and make sure the original inventors get compensated for it (as they choose) instead of it going completely to another entity.

    • Me

      Yeh because schools get books, other supplies, buildings and teachers all for free, too. Since the chance of a child being killed in a mass murder on school grounds IS really slim to none, I would actually rather see schools get educational materials free like up to date books, computers, technology, etc if things were to be given away to schools. Let’s worry about educating the population that will make it out alive because we are doing a horrible job at that long since before the school shooting hype.

      • sonya

        The chances of a child being killed at school are slim to none? Have you even seen the news lately? It’s like the going trend.

      • Me

        Yeh slim to none. Count how many kids have been murdered at school by a gunman (heck throw in the ones killed by knife wielding lunatics as well) and then count the numbers of kids in this country who make it home every day alive.

        The comment came from the fact that someone said these devices should be free to schools. Someone else said nothing else is free to schools either, and I agreed. Free books and supplies to all the kids who live would be more beneficial to this nation than a free piece of metal that benefit only a handful. I am not saying children are expendable, I am just saying giving something like this free only benefits a very few vs books that benefit all.

    • actinspires2012

      schools with small budgets tend to have metal detectors, armed guards, cctv cameras and a pressure lock door system. This doesn’t happen in urban schools or broke down school districts. Its only been happening in places where people refuse to secure the school itself acting like crazy doesnt exist everywhere.

  • Kevin Shelton

    Yes,
    This is a good idea but with just as many minuses as it has pluses, I hope that this thing never falls into the wrong hands, It can also be used to keep people in as well or out, whichever the case may be, I know that camera surveillance and auto locking doors that only principals or vice principal could operate during an emergency, the device you are talking about could be very dangerous in the wrong hands. These are our children, our future, this needs to stop now, and it should start @ home. Parents should have to be accountable for their children’s behavior.

  • Audrey Powell

    Our school class room doors have hinges. So this wouldn’t work in our school. Anymore ideas?

  • Mary Plaugher

    kevin shelton, about your comment “parents should be accountable for their children’s behavior” why blame the parents, when parents are no longer able to effectively discipline their children. I grew up in a time when I got my butt whipped, but I do not remember having to worry about school shootings.

  • Rick Perron

    another false sense of security for parents while your child is in school. no armed security guard ever harmed a child in school while protecting them. we have armed personnel at super bowls, airports, subways, 4th of july fireworks, summer carnivals, etc, etc, etc……..most every public event has armed gurads to keep us safe…………..except our own school system. mind boggling

  • AmericanFreedom

    Waiting on a patent before issuing them to schools? Oh so this is a money making scheme that an individual plans to capitalize on in lue of those who have died? He should be giving the rights over to our goverent at no cost, who then can issue this device for free to schools across our nation. Instead this character wants to pitch his story in hopes that every school will buy his product. If he were that concerned he wouldnt be waiting on any patent. Period. Would love to know his financial projections for this. Perhaps thats whats giving him the spark to speak so freely to the press/media about it.

    • J. Bradley

      Obviously, you don’t work in a school. Nothing is for free to schools. Why do you think we are always fundraising?

    • Bemmy

      Did you even read the post? It says even though they are waiting for the patent at least one school is already starting to install them. I am sure any school that ask could install them too. A patent really protects this from some big money grubbing company to make them and raise the cost to the schools, so they couldn’t afford them. Teachers know schools don’t have much money they are not going to scam them.

    • Hmmm

      Americanfreedom, just who do you think is going to manufacture these things for free so the government can distribute them at no cost?! Also, what Bemmy said.

    • Shawn Heidingsfelder

      If we stopped guns from being sold today, and not one more was purchased, there’d still be plenty lying around to do plenty of harm. Selling guns is not the problem. If they didn’t have a gun, they’d find another way to hurt people. Bombs are easy to make if you know where to look for directions.

  • Heather

    Honestly I’m ashamed by many of these comments bashing someone from creating something to keep our kids safe. Who cares if it’s waiting a patent? Who cares if they are getting a little bit of money out of this? I, for one, would be glad to know my child is safe if this were used in a classroom as an extra safetly procaution. The idea is for safety, not for everyone to bash someone for creating it. Seriously, what is wrong with people who can’t just say “hey that’s a cool idea, hope it works!” “I’m amazed at what gets into the news these days.”- I’m amazed at what people can say to one another these days!

    • Happy

      I so agee with you. Someone is maing an effort to something to protect the children, hurray for them. Some schools may have other options, but for those that don’t this is great. So much better then having armed guards or armed teachers (just more guns around, more opportunity for them to be used wrongly, more opportunity for accidents). Keep thinking out there people, I for one would be happy if my Grandsons were in a school with this protection, and it doesn’t have to be the only resource in their school. Also I would much rather see the inventors of this receive money for it then the gun shops and I bet it will cost a lot less then a gun.

  • Anna

    Public doors lock from the outside but can be still opened from inside in case of fire or other need to evacuate quickly. You can keep doors locked at all times, wear your key with your ID badge…or alone. There are a number of adjustments being made in public buildings dating back to 9/11 and there are considerations for fire codes, construction codes and purpose of use . Safety is not the simple subject the posters here are treating it as. Every tool valuable should be given fair consideration. Patent laws exist because your intellectual property and its resultant implementation are not required to be free to public domain unless the creator chooses. Hey, that’s a cool idea, hope it works. That would be laudable.

  • Kim

    Devastation breeds innovation? I remember all the different things teachers would do to block a door. Many not safe for the teacher or the children. This seems like a much simpler fix for those types of doors. Dead bolts are expensive then you have to pay some one to install and wait your turn to get it done… Could take a year. This seems like clean simple fix. Good idea. Deserves a patent. Looks like it should be cheap enough that of districts don’t want it parent clubs could buy.
    On that note… Better get district approval and fire
    marshal approval, etc. Before anything is purchased. Start now with the school boards while it is being patented. That could talk awhile.

  • Douglas D. Fox

    simple deterrent — keep the door LOCKED at all times. Anyone, such as an administrator, who needs to enter at will will have a key. Everyone else will have to be allowed in.

    Sadly, tho’ in most classrooms it is still possible even with a locked door and this thing to easily shoot into the room — most schools doors are required to have a window in them for fire safety reasons.

    Further a good, swift kick can break a door at its weakest point — the very door lock in question.

    There is no sure fire way of keeping an intruder out.

  • news2me

    This statement bothers me…. “It is going to buy kids and teachers time for shootings” .. We have tornado drills, fire drills, safety drills, lock-downs and now we have to worry most about some crazed human being that IS going to do this again…as if it is inevitable..
    Each day you send your child to school, you have to worry about a shooting.. What a sad day in America….Out of Control…..There has got to be gun control in this country.. This is a major problem….

  • Bobby D.

    Great idea for such a simple device. Give the man a teacher of the century award! Cheap option, easy to use and effective. Now all we need is to keep NFPA out of the process! Would be nice for the front office to have a way to open the door for the wise assert student that would slip in throw closure when a teacher steps out of the room. This unlocking mechanism can be locked in the school safe so only appropriate personnel can get to it. The US patent office needs to push this one through in record time.

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