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How ALICE Training Saves Lives

Fox 8 News featured Willoughby-Eastlake teachers and students conducting their ALICE Training drill. The alarm went off; teachers secure classrooms, and students hide in their classrooms. More than 8,000 students participated in the drill, which has now been a regular part of their school lives.

Students go through ALICE training

"When I was in grade school we did the weather drills and fire drills. There wasn't anything like this. It kind of breaks your heart," Willowick's fire chief said, as thousands of Willoughby-Eastlake students got livesaving training -- this one was about how to survive an active shooter inside the school.

Posted by Fox 8 News on Monday, October 15, 2018

Video: Students go through ALICE training | Fox 8 News | Oct 15, 2018

ALICE LogoALICE Training stands for Alert - Lockdown - Inform - Counter - Evacuate. The ALICE Training Institute conducts training for schools and businesses. Since 2000, they have trained more than 10,000 organizations. Retired police officer Greg Crane developed the program.

Video: ALICE Training Overview | ALICE Training Institute | Oct 10, 2018

ALICE LogoAside from going through the drill, Willoughby-Eastlake students learned about active shooter events. Children watched information videos that gave detailed instructions on what to do. Teachers also talked about specialized skills that can help their students survive. In one class, a teacher asks what to do when you encounter the shooter in a hallway. A boy raises his hand and answers, "run zigzag down the hall and make strange noises."

Increase in Active Shooter Incidents

Survival strategies are usually not something that children should be a part of. Before the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, threats in school were about failing grades and bullying. But, this is the reality that our teachers and students are facing. According to an FBI report in 2018, there were 27 incidents in the USA. From 2000 to 2017, there were 250 active shooter events.

Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2018

Source: Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2018, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2018.

FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs told CNN that active shooter events are increasing. He says, "If you look at the numbers, we're looking at an active shooter every other week in this country." Since July 2019, there have been four active shooter events in the U.S.

FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs

After the drill, Willoughby-Eastlake Superintendent Steve Thompson talked to Fox 8 News. He said, "A feeling that comes is just sadness, that that’s what we have to do. [It's] almost para-military train children to avoid an active shooter. But, it just keeps happening, and it’s just a part of our society."

Active shooter incidents are not confined to schools. Businesses, commercial, and public spaces have been targeted. There have been 105 incidents in offices between 2000 to 2017, making up 42% of all active shooter events.

Quick Look: 250 Active Shooter Incidents in the United States From 2000 to 2017

Source: Quick Look: 250 Active Shooter Incidents in the United States From 2000 to 2017 | FBI: Office of Partner Engagement | Dec 17, 2018

Training for violence in the workplace has also fallen to companies’ responsibilities. Business representatives and safety consultants attended ALICE Training held in Golden, Colorado. Many of the participants traveled to learn from the two-day workshop.

Rene Flores, one of the participants, felt that the training is now a necessity. He said, "To me, it’s not a matter of if, but when the next shooting will happen. I just want to always be prepared. Always know my options."

Preparing for Any Incident

The goal of ALICE Training is to elicit an automatic response when an active shooting incident occurs. Engage PEO's VP of Risk Management Julie Croushore talked about it in Business.com. She said, "Employees' responses should be automatic because they have been trained and have practiced what to do."

Most active shooting incident ends within minutes from when it started. Every single second count. "Employers should also utilize the ALICE method for training: alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate," Croushore adds.

The Benefits Teachers See in ALICE Training

Teachers and students highly benefit from getting ALICE Training. When handling high-pressure situations, there’s a need for immediate and automatic actions. Going through ALICE Training help improve their responses in this type of conditions.

CBS This Morning also showed how Beverly Gardens Elementary School in Ohio conducts its ALICE drills. Since the Sandy Hook Shooting in 2012, students and teachers regularly take part in these drills.

Video: Here's what an active shooter drill for 4th graders looks like | CBS This Morning | Oct 18, 2018

CBS Reporter Vladimir Duthiers asked the opinions of the fourth graders on the drill. He asks a student named Samara if she feels safe because of the drills. Samara answers, "Yes. Because if somebody would’ve actually come in here, we would be safe because we know everything to do."

More than preparing for an active shooter event, the ALICE training brings peace of mind. Parents of the fourth graders were also present during the drill to see what happens. For some of them, it was their first time witnessing the training themselves.

A parent said, "I was watching them, and I felt very emotional seeing what their reality is day-to-day. [And um,] But, I also feel some reassurance knowing that the school is prepared and they do the drills. It really seemed like the kids knew exactly what to do."

Is Active Shooter Training Traumatizing Everyone?

9 of 10 Schools

Not everyone agrees in implementing active shooter drills. For more than a decade, training for active shooter situations has increased. Nine out of ten schools conduct drills to students and teachers.

The increase in active shooter drills has affected students with trauma and stress. David Langer, a Psychology Professor at Suffolk University stresses this point. He said, "Active shooter drills can be quite scary and potentially quite traumatizing for children." Adding to the fact that some drills now include fake blood and pellet guns to make it more realistic.

Before a school shooting simulation

Source: Before a school shooting simulation at Troy Buchanan High School, students Lauren Timmer, right, and Nick Guyot, use stage makeup to create fake wounds.Jim Seida / NBC News

At the Troy Buchanan High School in Missouri, a group of drama students used fake blood make up for their drill. In the beginning, they were full of energy and excitement for their role in the training. But, after the drill, it was clear that some volunteers were shaken up. According to NBC News, a girl who volunteered to be one of the victims did not get up immediately after the drill. She was distraught and was sobbing after having gone through the experience.

After the active shooter drill

Source: After the active shooter drill, Troy Buchanan High School sophomore Alexis McCourt wipes away a tear.Jim Seida / NBC News

In Indiana, teachers were led into a classroom and shot at with pellet guns. It caused physical and mental injuries. They appealed to lawmakers to prohibit practice shooting during mandated emergency drills.

Students admitted to having trauma from the drills. Despite these, experts emphasize that having the drills are necessary. Experts do emphasize that counseling is needed to make sure the shock is not permanent. One of the essential to-do’s is to explain the drills in detail to the students. Schools that do not do this necessary precaution end up giving anxiety to the children.

Training exercise at Fountain Middle School

source http://neatoday.org

Langer emphasized that traumatizing the students will be counterproductive to the goal. He says, "I think it’s pretty clear that if you’re going to have drills, they should be done in the least anxiety-provoking way possible and focused on what behaviors you’re looking to teach."

Gershon Ben Keren, an instructor at Active Shooter Boston, suggests introducing drills gradually. Conducting a knowledge-based discussion first, then work in drills on evacuation and barricading.

After each drill, it’s also best for schools to check-in with each student and to provide them counseling.

Lockdown vs. Counter

Another concern about the ALICE Training is its Counter protocol. Parents do not like that this is part of the ALICE Training. School security expert Ken Trump says it is a high risk to interfere with an active shooter.

Lockdown Protocol is defined as barricading yourself inside a room to stop an intruder from coming in. Meanwhile, Counter Protocol is defending yourself from a violent attacker. Lieutenant Joe Hendry, an ALICE Instructor, further explains the difference in a video.

Video: What is Counter? | ALICE Training Institute | Jan 16, 2015

Hendry explains that Counter protocol does not mean fighting the active shooter. He says, "What we're teaching them is [that] there are very simple proactive things that you can do in order to mitigate casualties during [the] incident." Meanwhile, Lockdown protocol emphasizes the need for minimal movements. He adds, "Where [in] lockdown, we weren't allowed to move. Under ALICE, movement is paramount in our response."

The difference between countering and fighting was also emphasized in What is Counter? video. This was to address another type of active shooter training, the Run. Hide. Fight. Protocol. Developed by the Department of Homeland Security and the City of Houston, Texas, the Run. Hide. Fight. is an immediate active shooter training response fit for adults rather than children. When an opportunity arises, people are encouraged to fight the active shooter to stop him.

Video: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.® Surviving an Active Shooter Event | City of Houston | Jul 23, 2012

Many criticized both the Counter and Fight protocols for being too high-risk. Thus, many claims that Lockdown protocols are more effective than Counter protocols. During high-pressure situations, interfering with an active shooter is not ideal. Not everyone is equipped to deal with tackling a violent threat. Kenneth Trump, President of National School Safety and Security Services, stressed Lockdown protocol works in most cases. He says, "The goal is to stay out of harm's way and to reduce their visibility." In ALICE Training, participants must barricade doors whenever there is an alert. The tricky part of barricading public doors is that most do not have locks. Some doors also open in a different direction. In this case, people need to know how to barricade a door that opens out. Youtube commenters who watched Beverly Gardens Elementary School’s drill pointed out mistakes. The teacher and students barricaded the doors wrongly. Youtube commenter 1 Youtube commenter 2 Youtube commenter 3

Comments: Here's what an active shooter drill for 4th graders looks like | CBS This Morning YouTube | Oct 18, 2018

They barricaded an outward-opening door by stacking tables and chairs against it. Aside from making a lot of noise, the tables and chairs did not secure the classroom.

Outward-opening doors are a standard in public spaces. It is part of building codes against fires and accessibility for disabled people. These doors are difficult to barricade; which is why we need lockdown devices for these doors.

Others also pointed out that the teacher and students created noise in doing so. Noise creates attention; which anyone should avoid during an active shooter situation.

Youtube commenter 4 Youtube commenter 5 Youtube commenter 6

Comments: Here's what an active shooter drill for 4th graders looks like | CBS This Morning YouTube | Oct 18, 2018

Sleeve Image

Lockdown devices like The Sleeve provide extra security. Plus, they follow ALICE Training.

Sleeve Image

For inward-opening doors use the Rampart.

In selecting the appropriate lockdown device, here are some considerations:

  • Easy-to-use during a high-tense situation
  • Accessible (stored near the door or in a purse)
  • Does not create noise when installing or activating

Finding the right lockdown device eliminates noise and extra movements. No one will worry about attracting the attention of an active shooter.

Preparation Saves Lives

Until now, debates about ALICE Training and its implementation are still a hot topic. Many are contemplating if risking the trauma of ALICE training helps at all. Others suggest that there should be less violence during the drills.

ALICE Training

One thing is sure: preparing for the worst can save lives.

As Croushore said, "responses should be automatic." Without going through the drills, panic and fear will take over. Most often, people will freeze with inaction. Attending ALICE training helps people overcome the initial panic. From there, they start working through the protocols.

Getting through an ALICE training also gives family and loved ones their peace of mind. The knowledge that people know what to do provides hope. If anyone is in any active shooter situation, he or she can survive.

ALICE TrainingPreparing tools such as lockdown devices and alarms help in applying ALICE training. Making these tools accessible and ready-to-use saves time and effort.

Schools conduct at least two active shooter drills in a year. Businesses are also conducting safety training and drills in the workplace. Since there’s no solution yet on how to stop an active shooter incidents, the best we could do is prepare for it.

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