Two-day ALICE training for instructors take place at Streetsboro Police Department

by Bob Gaetjens | editor Published:

Streetsboro -- The Streetsboro Police Department played host to a regional ALICE training session, which included eight individuals from Streetsboro, on May 29 and 30.

The training event, conducted by ALICE Training Institute Instructor Chad Cunningham, taught more than 30 police and school officials how to effectively train others in the ALICE method of responding to school shooters.

ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, is a proactive alternative to the traditional school lockdown response to a gunman being in a school building.

According to Cunningham, more lives can be saved with an active response and a range of choices available to school officials, teachers and students than with a traditional lockdown.

Streetsboro High School Principal Eric Rauschkolb said he feels prepared to train other teachers and students on ALICE after the session.

"The two-day training we went through was very thorough," he said. "The ALICE training really allows us to increase our survivability during a major catastrophe like a shooting."

School Board member Kevin Grimm, who's been active in helping to form the district's safety policy, said he supports using ALICE to respond to dangerous intruders in school buildings.

"I like that it gives the teachers options," he said. "It's another tool for them to use in case there's an intruder."

May 29 was spent in the classroom learning about the different concepts that make up an "ALICE" response to a tragedy, said Cunningham.

May 30 started with several mock shooting incidents at Campus Elementary School with different participants playing different roles.

In the first scenario, Cunningham said participants responded with a traditional lockdown, in which teachers and students lock the classroom door, turn off the lights, huddle in a corner and hope the gunman doesn't gain entry to the classroom.

The person playing the shooter did gain entry to the rooms, and all 32 participants were killed in the mock shooting, said Cunningham.

In a second mock shooting scenario, the role players were able to lock the classroom doors and one classroom tried to secure the door handle from inside by lashing it down so it wouldn't turn, said Cunningham. In one classroom, the lash -- an electrical cord -- broke and two individuals were shot by the person role playing the shooter.

In a third mock shooting, the gunman entered the school during a class change when students were out in the halls, said Cunningham. In that scenario, everyone ran and tried to evacuate the building. One person was shot.

In the fourth scenario, "all the strategies of ALICE were used," said Cunningham, and in that scenario there were no casualties.

The fifth scenario was one in which those playing teachers and students had detailed information about the location of the shooter, according to Cunningham. Depending on how close the shooter was in the building, teachers and students either evacuated via hallways or out classroom windows. One person was shot in the leg.

Cunningham said a "one-size fits all strategy does not exist," depending on the shooting scenario and the ages and abilities of teachers, students and other staff.

If escape is possible, he said teachers and students should try to do that. The "Inform" aspect of ALICE is one important part of the puzzle that can make evacuation much easier. With public address system announcements about the location of the shooter in the building, teachers and students were able to determine for themselves whether an escape through the hallways was possible in one of the mock shooting incidents, said Cunningham.

Those who were closer to the shooter opted for a window escape, and some participants discussed the difficulty of getting everyone in the class out the window and the best way to break it to make their escapes fast.

If a shooter gains entry into an individual classroom, Cunningham said students and teachers should try to "Counter" the shooter.

"The 'Counter' strategy is the last resort," he said.

And countering may look different for different people. Kindergartners through sixth-graders are instructed to throw objects at the shooter, trying to disrupt him from his game plan, said Cunningham.

Older students can throw things, as well, but may be able to physically attack the shooter, depending on the situation.Cunningham said those involved in attacking the shooter should try to gain control of the arms, legs and head of the shooter.

"We're just trying to survive a murder scene," said Cunningham. "It's all about trying to disrupt [the shooter's] ability to shoot accurately."

Grimm said he prefers the options available under ALICE than a typical lockdown. If at all possible, he said students and staff should evacuate the building, but if that's not an option he'd rather have students and teachers empowered to do something about the situation than huddle under a desk.

"When it comes right down to it, if it was my child in the classroom, I would like to know they had a fighting chance rather than sitting in a corner and letting something bad happen to them," he said.

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