Training teaches shooter responses

18-May-2015

Two shots rang out, and someone yelled, “Gun.”

Most of those people filling the hallways “between classes” ran into rooms, barricading themselves inside, while others near exits took the chance to escape.

At the same time most were seeking safety, the two people nearest the shooter tackled, disarmed and pinned him down with the help of others nearby, awaiting the arrival of law enforcement.

Service Valley Charter Academy principal Ray Huff said his adrenaline was still rushing after tackling the designated shooter in the simulation, played by Chetopa Police Chief Scott Feagan.

Of the two shots, only one could have proven fatal, so at least 21 people’s lives were saved.

“As an administrator, I feel more empowered,” Huff said. “It’s been kind of a gray area.”

Huff was among representatives of law enforcement, schools and businesses throughout Labette County to participate in the A.L.I.C.E. training brought to Parsons by the Parsons Chamber of Commerce Leadership Labette class, which felt it was important for the community and Southeast Kansas area.

A.L.I.C.E. (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate) is designed to teach students, teachers and employees to be prepared to respond through considering options that can save their lives until law enforcement arrives or has control of the situation. The key options in ALICE do not have to be used in the order they appear, but serve as a guide people can use to stay safe, run, lockdown or fight back if necessary.

The training exposes participants to a variety of scenarios, including the first scenario being to lock the door, hide and wait.

Huff and others agreed the final scenario, where they were allowed to respond in some manner to take action to protect themselves, was much better than the first scenario they were given, in which they were told to only lock the door and hide under tables or behind desks or chairs.

In that scenario, the active shooter had a 100 percent kill rate, taking out all 22 participants.

Asked how they felt just sitting in the rooms, waiting for the shooter to come to them while they hid, the participants shouted out, “Helpless,” “Scared,” “Like a sitting duck” and “Like I needed to be doing something.”

“It’s ingrained in us to do something,” A.L.I.C.E. Instructor Kenny Mayberry with the Southeast Missouri State University police said, adding that telling people to hide under a table, wait and hope for the best goes against the desire for fight or flight.

No matter what option participants played out in actively countering the shooter’s efforts, the number of simulated injuries or deaths was reduced. In several instances, the opportunity to take action to protect and defend themselves resulted in nobody being injured or only minor injuries be sustained.

Emilio Aita is a member of the Leadership Labette class and principal at St. Patrick Catholic School.

“I’ve been to other active-shooter trainings, but one of my teachers asked me what happens if this, or this, or this, and I couldn’t answer her, so I figured I’d be attending,” Aita said. “This is the most comprehensive training I’ve been to.”

Huff said it is the second active-shooter training he has attended, but he said A.L.I.C.E. is a lot more hands-on, and provides people with lots of choices of action they can take should there be an intruder.

“Knowledge is the key to survival,” Huff said. “This gives us a lot of different options to make sure kids and staff are safe. With the hands-on and the videos, those things bring it home. Kids are our biggest asset, and we need to keep kids safe.”

“It is very comprehensive and applies to home, businesses, churches or schools,” Aita said.

Chetopa Police Chief Scott Feagan heard about A.L.I.C.E training two years ago and took the information back to the Chetopa school. For the most part, he said, the school was pretty much on board.

“I came to get certified as an instructor to take it into the school and instruct the staff and faculty to teach others to do this,” Feagan said. “It’s amazing. I’ve been of this mindset for a long time and always followed the active-shooter programs. There has got to be a better way. We can’t continue to sit and let people kill us. We’ve got to fight back.”

Huff said he hopes that at the national and state levels legislation is implemented making such training required for every school.

A.L.I.C.E. trainer and Excelsior Springs, Missouri, police Sgt. Paul White said supporters should contact their state department of education.

“In Missouri, they passed Senate Bill 75 making is so all schools may conduct active-shooter training, as long as a certified peace officer is conducting the training,” White said.

Empowering people to protect themselves is more and more necessary in a society where active shooters are entering workplaces, schools and even churches.

“I’m winning because we’re going home,” Mayberry said. “That’s my mindset every day.”

Anyone wanting to learn more about the training and when another class is scheduled in the area can visit www.alicetraining.com.

Originally posted Friday, May 8, 2015 at parsonssun.com