A.L.I.C.E. trains schools to Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate
More than 20 Warren County School District educators are in the middle of ALICE training so they can pass their knowledge on to other educators and students.
The district’s ALICE trainers, representing every building in the district, teachers, aides, administrators, and bus contractors, drilled with ALICE Training Institute National Trainer George Hunter on Wednesday at the district’s central office in Russell. They are meeting with him again Thursday.
During the afternoon, the instructors got a taste for what it would be like to be in a school with an active shooter. Some of them got to be the shooter — with a Nerf ball shooting semi-automatic.
Hunter ran the teachers, aides, and administrators through several scenarios.
In the first, the victims were in two classrooms and they were to remain hidden — neither trying to escape nor fighting back, not even trying to keep the shooter out of their room — an old-style response to active shooter situations.
Hunter asked for someone with little to no experience handling a gun.
Warren Area High School math teacher Deb Hasselman became the shooter.
In one minute, she shot 20 of 22 instructors in two classrooms. The two who were not shot had hidden in a closet.
At about a 50 percent kill-ratio for close-up shootings — “she’s never shot a gun before and in a minute-10 seconds, you just lost half your class,” Hunter said.
He had told the trainers that they would experience only being able to focus on one thing at a time. While Hasselman was walking through the classrooms, calling to her ‘victims’, every time she pulled the trigger Hunter set off an air horn inches from her head.
He had told non-participants before that the shooter volunteers almost never hear the horn. Hasselman said she hadn’t heard anything. But, “she was surprised at how easy it was” when her victims were hiding under desks and not fighting back.
“Anticipation is the worst part of that,” Hunter said in the post-scenario briefing. “How’d that feel?”
“Horrible,” Student Resource Officer Tyler Wagner said.
Hunter explained that law enforcement officers particularly dislike doing nothing in that kind of scenario. He said one officer in a past training reacted despite the instructions and almost hit the volunteer shooter with a chair.
Later scenarios added more factors.
Most of the trainers have been through the system before and have become adept at barricading rooms against intruders.
Hunter was unable, despite his best effort, to even open the door after the trainers had worked for 15 seconds.
“One simple tactic and you denied your attacker,” he said. “You guys just increased your survivability by 100 percent by barricading the door.”
For the next scenario, the trainers were not allowed to do anything but flee out through the main classroom doors to designated safe zones.
“The best way not to get shot is to evacuate,” Hunter said. “Distance is our friend.”
He encouraged the ‘victims’ to flee and keep fleeing. “Stay committed to your actions,” he said.
The volunteer shooter in that scenario chose to be right between the doors of the occupied classrooms.
But, when the chaos of 22 teachers running at, around, and past him began, he barely even fired. He had three hits — one in the head, two that would probably not have been serious. “I just sent 20-plus people running into a hallway with a shooter instructed to shoot everybody,” Hunter said. “Nine of you bumped into him.”
“With these tactics, you can win,” he said.
Later, with all the victims in one room, volunteer shooter Fallon Bachman, a K-12 gifted instructor at Eisenhower, was pelted by numerous rubber balls, and successfully shot three victims, none fatally, before the gun was knocked from her hand.
“You brought rubber balls to a gun fight and won,” Hunter said.
In the final scenario, Eisenhower guidance counselor Chris Demorest, who has military background, was given a fake gun and told to defend the room.
Hunter said the next shooter could come into the room and shoot from any of the possible entry points. He told Demorest to point and say, ‘bang’ at the first sign of trouble.
While Demorest was ‘instructing’ the class, Bachman picked the large, bright-colored Nerf rifle off the table a few feet from Demorest and fired two rounds into him before he even looked her way.
He said teachers who are given defensive guns in the scenarios seldom successfully protect their students and sometimes end up firing wildly.
The district will be holding lockdown drills in the coming weeks and will continue with ALICE training and drills of the various procedures on an ongoing basis, Quality Assurance Supervisor Boyd Freeborough said.
Officials plan to hold one full active-shooter response drill in the district each year.
The first was held at Beaty-Warren Middle School in August. The next, Freeborough said, will be at the Eisenhower K-12 center.