ALICE training reaches Douglas School District

Posted: Updated:

Schools in the Black Hills are changing the way they handle active shooter situations.

Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE) is a new, options-based procedure to combat school shootings. The program is being introduced to schools and other organizations throughout the Black Hills.

School staff – primarily those with access to an intercom system – relay information on the perpetrator’s whereabouts. From there, one can make decisions based on what they know: some can run when they see an opportunity, some may barricade their doors, and, if necessary, some will even fight back.

School Resource Deputy Jamin Hartland said traditional lockdown protocols had limited options.

“Teachers and staff had one option of just putting the kids in a corner, shutting the lights off, locking the door and hoping for the best,” Hartland said. “They now have the option of doing several different things.”

The devastating tragedy that was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. now prepares Douglas High School in Box Elder, SD.

Douglas School District Superintendent Alan Kerr said that recent events spurred the change.

“With everything that’s going on, we think that we needed to do something that would give us a higher probability of our kids not getting injured,” Kerr said.

That “something” was the ALICE training that Douglas High School staff underwent on Friday afternoon.

Pennington County Sheriff’s Office conducted multiple school shooter simulations in different locations throughout the school. Deputies played the intruders, armed with Nerf guns, and patrolled hallways as staff members acted out the would-be victims.

The training encourages creative solutions that an aggressor would not expect.

“It gives each individual person the ability to look around and see what’s in their environment that they can use to keep their kids safe.” Hartland said. “[Such as] knocking out their window with a chair and climbing out the window, or … holding the door handle shut with a length of rope."

Vandenberg Elementary School Principal Lezlie Larsen noticed a promising trend as staff transitioned from the old system to the new.

“They raise their hands and talk about, you know, ‘how many survived?’ and ‘how many didn’t?’” Larsen said. “Initially, there is a higher count that didn’t make it. And now, as you go through the scenarios, there is a much smaller count.”

Still, the possibility that a potential attacker could learn ALICE remains. Hartland said the system has too many variables for a shooter to take into account.

“It’s still such an unpredictable situation with how a teacher or staff member is going to respond,” Hartland said. “It’s going to be very difficult to come up with a plan that is going to be able to defeat all of the possibilities that could happen.”

Age-appropriate training will be provided to students within the district at a later date.

Today's Forecast