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ALICE Training Prepares Schools for Active Shooter Scenarios

It seems that as time goes by, numbers of school shootings and threats of school shootings have risen exponentially. The age-old plan for teachers and students during an active shooter situation was to simply get out of sight and hide under something, hoping for the best. This method has been proven rather ineffective in several situations with a large loss of life.

There had to be a better way to respond to an active shooter situation. After the fatal Columbine shooting, Officer Greg Cane of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area came up with a better plan to keep his wife, an elementary school principal, safe in such a situation. The issue in question was that there was no solid plan in a shooter situation. Teachers and students would be left to improvise and simply hope they survived.

Officer Cane, who envisioned a plan to protect teachers and students and protect their lives, brought the ALICE plan to life.

ALICE is an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

Alert—Alert everyone in the school with specific language without the use of code words. Clear words sent by as many channels of delivery as possible can ensure knowledge of the danger zone. The alert gives people the ability to make informed decisions that will increase their survivability.

Lockdown—Barricade classrooms and silence technology. Be prepared to evacuate or counter if the situation escalates. Traditional lockdowns actually endanger more lives, placing unsuspecting sitting ducks in corners of every room for the violent intruder to carry out his plan on. The ALICE lockdown procedure provides techniques for how to better barricade rooms, communicate with police, and prepare for other strategies if the shooter gains entrance into the room.

Inform—Keep real-time updates on the shooter’s location. Video surveillance, 911 calls, and intercom announcements may be used. Information sent through such channels should be clear and direct, describing the current location of the shooter. Effective information can throw the shooter’s mind out of balance, counteracting the shooter’s most likely poorly-thought plan. If the shooter is staying in a particular area, rooms clear of the area can evacuate, while rooms in imminent danger can lock down and prepare to counter.

Counter—Create various distractions that inhibit the shooter’s ability to effectively carry out the plan. ALICE training does not endorse actively confronting a violent intruder, and it is a method of last resort in a life-and-death situation. Counter is about increasing survivability of potential victims of the shooter. Any method to gain control is acceptable. Every action taken by those involved is a step to increase the survivability of the people in danger.

Evacuate—Remove yourself from the danger zone when it is safe to do so. Evacuating to a safer area gets people away from the immediate danger and can prevent civilians from coming into contact with the shooter. ALICE training provides multiple techniques for breaking windows and evacuating from higher floors and under extreme duress. ALICE training also provides instructions on what to do at rally points like communicating with law enforcement and giving first aid. Safety is the primary focus of the ALICE program, and risking any life is not endorsed.

In schools, businesses, churches, and other places were large numbers of people gather, ALICE drills can be carried out. It is important to have ALICE drills run as smoothly as fire drills or tornado drills to have all people prepared in case the unthinkable becomes reality.

At Tahlequah High School, ALICE training drills were carried out by the School Resource Officers and were seen as a success. “I think the kids and teachers were very receptive about doing the training,” Officer Chris Smith, said.

Through the teaching of the ALICE program, teachers, students, and people in other organizations like businesses and churches can learn effective techniques for how to respond to a violent intruder situation. Through the ALICE methods in these increasingly dangerous times, lives can be preserved and students will be able to return home safely after school.