The staff of the Lanesboro school district recently took part in an ALICE training. Despite the name, ALICE training has nothing to do with someone named Alice. The letters stand for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, and the program trains people how to react appropriately in an active shooter situation. The training was mandatory for all Lanesboro district staff, including the daycare employees.
Steve Dudeck, a National Trainer for ALICE, conducted the training which included a class and active scenarios. Dudeck, an Iowa native, was a state trooper for 25 years before becoming certified as an ALICE
instructor in 2011. He noted that any doubt someone has about the effectiveness of the program is usually assuaged by the time they’re done with the training. “It’s very well received,” he said.
The program takes a proactive response to active shooter situations and teaches appropriate reactions which go beyond the traditional lock-down procedures. It has been instituted in over 4,200 schools across the nation as well as in approximately 1,300 healthcare facilities, 480 churches, 950 colleges, 760 government buildings, and over 3,000 businesses. Over one million people, including law enforcement, have been trained in the program so far.
ALICE was started after Greg Crane, a Dallas/Fort Worth area law enforcement officer asked his wife Lisa, an elementary school principal, at their Christmas Eve dinner in 2000, how her school staff was trained to handle an active shooter situation. When she told him that they were taught to lock their doors, turn off the lights, and wait until law
enforcement showed up to handle it, he realized there had to be a better way. Crane and a fellow officer used their experiences in law enforcement to put together a plan and strategies that could be effective in an active shooter situation. In early 2001, they made their first presentation, and the program has continued to grow in popularity since.
The training emphasizes how quickly shootings take place, which are often in full force or finished before law enforcement even arrive on the scene.
ALICE teaches individuals to be proactive in those situations instead of passive. Some of the ALICE techniques include not just locking your door, but barricading it effectively, throwing something to distract the shooter, swarming, evacuations, and the importance of using plain language instead of codes when notifying others of the threat.
When the ALICE training takes place in a school setting, it focuses on the teachers and other school staff. Books are available for the younger and older grades, and teachers are encouraged to incorporate them into their curriculum so children can be prepared as well. “When teachers start to educate students, that’s going to be a big piece of it,” Dudeck said.
The Lanesboro school staff first completed an online training for ALICE and then took part in a class on June 4 to learn more about how the program works. After the class, they acted out five active shooter scenarios, giving them the chance to see how to put what they’d learned into practice.
Nathan Olson from the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department was present at the ALICE training in Lanesboro to observe. “It’s something we’ve been trying to push with other schools,” he noted. As an ALICE instructor and member of law enforcement, he knows the value in the training and how it can save lives.
It’s easy to say that it can’t happen here, but the truth is that school shootings can happen anywhere, even in a small school. School shootings in Red Lake, Minn., in 2005, and another in Cold Springs, Minn., in 2003 showed that Minnesota is not immune. In 1998, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson, along with an 11-year-old accomplice shot and killed four fellow students and a teacher at Westside Middle School near Jonesboro, Ark.
Johnson grew up in Spring Valley, Minn., moving to Arkansas after his parents’ divorce. With a school shooting that hits that close to home, it’s obvious that school safety is something that can’t be ignored, something of which Lanesboro school officials are well aware.
High school principal Brett Clarke and school psychologist Heidi Johnson were the first to attend a two-day ALICE training program and brought it to the attention of the school. Superintendent Matt Schultz agreed that it was a worthwhile program and was able to coordinate training for the entire school staff. “It’s a different way of thinking about safety for you and for the kids,” he said. “It’s a skill that you carry with you.”
More information on ALICE training can be found at ALICEtraining.com.