Although the chances of finding yourself in the midst of an active shooter scenario are the same as getting struck by lightning, the College takes these potential situations very seriously.
In an effort to prepare faculty, staff and students in the event of an emergency situation, the Stonehill College Police Department (SCPD) has adopted a new active shooter response training model called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate).
Developed by a police officer in Texas in response to the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999, ALICE is a set of proactive strategies that increase the chances of survival during an active shooter situation. Endorsed by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, DHS, and FEMA. ALICE is based on the premise that sharing information, being authorized to act on your own behalf and proactive training are key to surviving an active shooter event.
Research has shown that traditional “shelter in place” response models result in higher casualty counts, according to the ALICE Training Institute’s official website. In some cases, these models make individuals an easier target for an assailant.
Teaching Awareness and Empowerment
The ALICE model, the steps of which are not intended to be followed in any linear order, represents a major shift away from these ineffective procedures. ALICE attempts to put power back in the hands of trainees by teaching them to be aware and active.
Each ALICE training session begins with an hour-long presentation given by Stonehill staff members who have previously gone through a “train the trainer” session. During the presentations, the trainers discuss each part of the ALICE model and what they entail.
Later, participants are invited to take part in a number of simulated active shooter scenarios run by members of SCPD. The first scenario, which simulates a traditional lock down, sees the trainees sheltering in place.
During this simulation, “the shooter” (role played by an SCPD member) is able to enter the classroom with ease and claim a number of “casualties.” SCPD runs this particular simulation to demonstrate the shortcomings of older active shooter response models.
“Locked doors only provide a time barrier. They can be defeated,” said SCPD Sergeant David Wordell during an ALICE training he helped run Aug. 22 on campus.
The second scenario sees the trainees follow an enhanced lockdown protocol. During this part of the training, participants are instructed to put up a barricade to prevent “the shooter” from getting into the room.
SCPD instructs trainees to get creative in how they set up their blockades. Participants are taught to use tables, chairs, desks, belts, neckties, purses and other items to prevent a shooter from entering a room.
This scenario sees participants taking a more active and engaged role in defending themselves against “the shooter,” who is prevented from claiming many “casualties,” thus demonstrating ALICE’s merits when compared to previous response models.
Trainees are most proactive during the third scenario, which sees them trying to counter their shooter’s attack. Before going into this scenario, participants are taught to work together to swarm and restrain their attacker, throw objects at the shooter to disorient him or her, remove and secure the shooter’s weapon and do whatever they can to evacuate the area.
As with the second scenario, “the shooter” claims fewer “casualties” during this simulation because of the proactive stance taken by trainees.
Throughout the training sessions instructors stress that communication is key during active shooter scenarios. By providing members of the community with updates on an active shooter situation through text messages, email and social media, individuals are better equipped to respond during these crises.
Stonehill is one several hundred colleges and universities to adopt the ALICE model. The implementation of this model on campus represents the College’s continued efforts to remain vigilant about the possible dangers that lurk in today’s world.
“With the ALICE program, we are using a best practice model, one that has already been proven effective and empowers people caught in active shooter situations. The response to our ALICE trainings has been outstanding and we appreciate the support and cooperation we have been receiving from across campus,” said SCPD Chief Peter Carnes. (Photo on the left)
“The ALICE training provides valuable insight in how to best survive an active shooter situation. The trainers were knowledgeable, patient and hands-on in their teaching style. The program is an invaluable resource to faculty, staff and students, one that empowers them to respond effectively in a moment of crisis,” said Joseph Favazza, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
More Trainings Scheduled
In the coming weeks, SCPD will continue to hold ALICE training sessions. Thus far, trainers have conducted seminars for employees in Duffy Academic Center, MacPháidín Library, Shields Science Center and Martin Institute for Society & Law. SCPD plans to hold seminars for employees in the remaining buildings on campus. During the fall semester, SCPD will be conducting ALICE training sessions specifically for students.