ALICE TrainingSafety of students and staff is of the upmost importance to Springfield Public Schools, and while tragic and highly covered by media, school violence is actually quite rare.We at SPS are acutely aware of the tragic nature of such situation and are committed to equipping our schools with the best practices to keep everyone safe. The way that we have trained for dangerous intruders is not changing, it is evolving. SPS is implementing best practices and is working in collaboration with our local law enforcement partners to implement the ALICE method.
ALICE empowers everyone to use his or her best judgment on each unique situation.
ALICE stands for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate.
Here you will find resources and materials for staff, parents and the community to better understand both the ALICE response method and the way in which it will be implemented here at SPS.
About ALICE TrainingOur district has been making some important changes to our approach to emergency training for staff. Many districts, including Eugene 4J and Bethel, are implementing similar changes, consistent with the national ALICE training model.
Discussions about increasing school violence are uncomfortable, but we need to change how we respond should an incident happen so that we minimize the danger to students and staff.
All district staff were directed to participate in this mandatory training before the school year began.Schools can click here to• view or download a booklet that provides further information about the training procedure;NOTE: This booklet should be reviewed before you receive Rally Point training at your school.• view or download a flyer with 7 tips for setting up your classroom.
This data has led law enforcement officials to recommend a shift in how school personnel are trained to respond to an incident.
What has emergency training looked like in the past for our district?
Previously, SPS schools are trained in response to two levels of alert: Code Blue lockout (where doors are locked against a potential external threat) and Code Red lockdown (everyone must move to a securable location under adult supervision).
In a lockdown situation, meaning that danger is imminent, staff are trained to stay in their classrooms, lock their doors, move students away from doors and windows, and remain quietly until the all-clear is given.
This strategy, however, has come under scrutiny, given that it does not account for the variety of situational factors that can occur.
For example, if the incident happens before or after school and/or students are in various locations, such as at passing time, lunch, PE or open campus. Also, data indicates that traditional lockdown procedures actually serve to create identifiable targets in a violent intruder situation. Since most situations are over by the time law enforcement arrives, it’s not reasonable to expect an event to end spontaneously.
What do law enforcement officials recommend?
Because no single response fits all events, we need to make sure that every individual knows his or her options and can act decisively to select the best course of action.
Our district’s SROs (school resource officers) have highly recommended a new approach, referred to as ALICE, which is becoming widely known as the new “best practice” approach to safety training.
Other districts across the state are also considering moving to this approach, and locally we are collaborating with Eugene and Bethel school districts to make sure that training is consistent across all schools and across our communities.
So, what is ALICE?
ALICE stands for Alert • Lockdown • Inform • Counter • Evacuate. The components are NOT sequential and do NOT constitute a checklist. Staff will need to rely on the information at hand and their own judgment to determine the safest course of action.
The approach is an alternative to the more passive “hunker down” approach of the past, designed to empower individuals to participate actively in their own survival, while leading others to safety.
There are no guarantees, but the widespread belief is that these new skill sets will greatly increase the odds of survival should anyone face an active shooter situation.
- ALERT: Sound an alarm using plain and specific language to alert others to the danger.
- LOCKDOWN: Doors should be locked to give all involved time to react. If a secure location is available, practical strategies are shared for how to better barricade a room and how to better prepare for other strategies if needed, such as Counter or Evacuate.
- INFORM: Communicate the violent intruder’s location and direction in real time using any means necessary (such as PA announcements or walkie-talkies) so that everyone on site has access to the information. The idea is that knowledge is the key to survival.
- COUNTER: Interrupt the physical act of the shooting by making noise or other distraction with the intent of reducing the intruder’s ability to execute his/her plan. This could mean literally throwing anything available to hinder a shooter’s aim. Note that this does not mean fighting, but is rather a last-ditch effort to avoid being a “sitting duck.”
- EVACUATE: When it is safe to do so, remove yourself from the danger zone. The idea is to get as many people away from the situation as possible. ALICE training provides techniques for safer and more strategic evacuations that will make the need to Counter less likely.
Again, these strategies are not sequential, and no single response (such as lockdown-only) fits all active shooter events; however, making sure that each individual knows his or her options for response and can react decisively will save valuable time.
Specific advice varies depending on what level of student is concerned. For example, elementary students will obviously need to wait for direction from teachers and staff.
How is the training made specific for each school?
Training will be specific to each school’s layout and location. Schools will work to identify:
- a meet-up location and protocol for students and staff in the event they need to evacuate;
- a plan for reunification of students with their families.
School resource officers Darin Vetter and Erik Todd will be visiting schools this fall to review evacuation strategies, rally points and processes. The officers will begin with elementary schools, followed by middle and then high schools.How does this affect student training?Once staff are all trained, we will begin to implement the concepts of the ALICE response method with students, in age appropriate ways. As with any such training, the idea is not to make the students scared, but to give them the knowledge that they need to be more confident, competent and calm in the event of an emergency.
How can families talk to students about this?
Young students need constant reminders of safe practices in order for them to make good decisions about personal safety. Parents can help students to prepare for ALICE by helping them understand the following objectives at home:
- Most people are good people, but there are some people, and they can be of all ages, color and types, that can be mean and may wish them harm.
- Self-confidence comes from trying things that are hard and getting better each time.
- There are many solutions and options when faced with a problem.
- When people are prepared for difficult situations, they can make smarter decisions.
- Help children understand that their school wants to have drills so they can have a good plan if anything happens.
- Discuss the importance of following the teacher’s directions without hesitation.
For more information, visit www.alicetraining.com.
Statistics cited were from an FBI report, “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013” and the New York City Police Department (NYPD), “Active Shooter: Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation,” 2012 Edition.