Douglas School employees complete ALICE training for another year

Before students arrive, teachers and staff train for active shooter situations to later talk with students

Alice TrainingBOX ELDER, S.D. — Teachers and staff at Douglas Middle School participated in active shooter training to prepare for the return of students on Monday, Aug. 22.

The staff runs through active shooter scenarios every year to stay familiar with ALICE and its response protocol.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lock down, Inform, Counter and Evacuate and they’ve prepared over 5,500 school districts. They also educate businesses, healthcare facilities, police, government buildings and houses of worship.

Douglas Schools have been training with ALICE for a few years now, giving chances for employees to learn something new each year. They went though four different scenarios, one even involving a knife.

“Repetition is really important in ALICE training and the reason for that is because during an emergency situation, the brain all of a sudden just breaks down,” Bud Gusso, executive director of operations at Douglas School District, said. “So the more repetition we can give, the more automatic the response is. The more automatic the response is, the more predictable the behaviors. If we can, even for our experienced staff, continue to over and over and over again expose them to strategies that are real world strategies that they can use in any setting the more likely it will be that they’ll survive a serious event that might happen in their lives.”

Steps of ALICE response protocol:

  • Alert
    • When you first become aware of a threat and the sooner you understand the danger, the sooner you can save yourself and people around you. This involves getting past denial, recognizing the signs, and taking it seriously.
  • Lock down
    • This happens if evacuation is not a safe option, and includes barricading entry points. While locked down, ALICE trainers will instruct how to use mobile devices and communicate with the police instead of just waiting out the danger. It’s also a chance for people to come up with strategies in case the active shooter gets in the room.
  • Inform
    • Communicating information in as real time as possible, as long as it’s safe, is beneficial to making effective survival decisions. Information should be direct and clear, and this can come from video surveillance, 911 calls and public announcements.
  • Counter
    • Creating noise, movement, distance and distraction to reduce shooter’s accurate shot, are seen as a strategy of last resort. This environment will decrease a shooter’s chance of hitting a target but ALICE doesn’t think actively confronting them would be best. Again, a strategy of last resort.
  • Evacuate
    • Moving people out of harm’s way and prevents potential civilians from contacting the shooter. This can be through side doors or out of first floor windows. There are many strategies taught like breaking the top corner of a window is more effective than the center.

“We used to do the lock down, turn off lights, be quiet, sit in the corner and that’s proven not to be effective,” Sgt. Scott Sitzes, supervisor for the school resource officers, said. “We want to give as many different options as we possibly can, so lock down may be something that we move to but also maybe evacuate. We want to make sure we give students, teachers, staff as many different options as we possibly can.”Alice Training9

Students will also go through training with different scenarios and table talks that happen monthly or every other month. Teachers are the ones responsible to communicate to their students on the emergency protocols.

“It’s vitally important that teachers know because typically — especially when you get in with the younger kids — the students look for somebody to take charge, and kind of tell them what to do and making sure that the teachers are aware of what they should be doing or how they can instruct their students to behave in a situation like that. It can be more important,” Sitzes said.

“At the elementary schools, we do the same thing, but we also want to make that more at their education level and their emotional level,” Gusso said. “We involve parents to make sure that they understand what the ALICE acronym is. We send reading material home with our elementary families that are in language that is more friendly for elementary and a little safer for elementary students, but contains the same information.”

The school employees also want to be sure that they make the environment comfortable and safe for parents sending their kids there and for students to continue learning.

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