USD 413 to implement ALICE protocol in wake of shootings

Dustin Vargo, Reporter

After the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas where over 500 people were injured and over 50 died, USD #413 is now considering switching to a new lockdown protocol.

Many think that ALICE, in the event of a school shooting, would protect students and faculty better than previous ideas of hiding.

USD 413’s Superintendent of Schools, Richard Proffitt, is very well versed in ALICE. In fact, Proffitt is considered an official ALICE trainer.

“The best part of ALICE is giving teachers and students some practice on understanding the different tools that they have to use based on the information that’s provided to them,” Proffitt said.

ALICE Acronym

ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. All of the acronyms apply in five stages; not all of the stages are always in order.

Normally, the first stage is alert. An alert would be issued by way of the intercom system informing the building that a shooting is actively taking place.

Lockdown is the second phase of ALICE. During this time, students and faculty hunker down where they are and determine a plan. This plan is based on the information they are given about the shooter.

Inform is when the office, or whoever is operating the intercom, gives everyone information on the shooter such as location, and maybe even physical description.

“If we were to have an actual shooter incident, Proffitt said. “Someone would be on a PA system and telling them, ‘here is where the shooter is at’.”

The countering phase only applies if the shooter is in your part of the building. If they are trying to get into your classroom, you do everything possible to keep them out.

Odds are that if you can keep a door barricaded long enough for the shooter to give up, then they will not enter your classroom.

“Most of the time, a shooter wants to get as many casualties as they can in a short amount of time,” Proffitt says. “They know the cavalry is coming. They know that, ‘I’ve got five to six minutes to get as many casualties.’ If they go up and they pull on a door, how long are they going to pull on that door to try to get in? Not very long.”

If they somehow get in, then you defend yourself at all cost, using books, computers, whatever you may have to protect yourself.

The evacuate phase then comes into play when you learn that the shooter is in another part of the building. If that is the case, then you just leave the building as quickly as possible.

What Can We Do?

The push away from previous lockdowns where students would hide came to fruition after the Columbine High School mass shooting in 1999.

Many involved in that shooting were trained to hide, instead of countering and evacuating.

In the library at Columbine High School, 11 students died. However, it took five minutes for the shooters to arrive to the library. In this time, they could have made it to the back door of the library and evacuated.

An important reason that ALICE is being implemented in the district is due to the potential amount of time it would take law enforcement and first responders to reach a shooting.

“In their studies, they found out that victims resolve two and a half times the incidents more than police did,” Proffitt said. “You say, well why? Well, the average police response time is anywhere between six and 10 minutes.”

In the superintendent’s mind, that raises one big question for him.

“What do you do in that time where they [law enforcement] are coming?” Proffitt said. “How much could happen?”

An example of where the concept of barricading doors worked to keep casualties at a minimum was during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

In the Virginia Tech shooting, there was a classroom where a class of students decided the barricade themselves from the shooter. In that classroom, all 12 students survived.

ALICE Preparation

The plan is to have ALICE drills to prepare for the probability of an active shooter incident.

“We will have ALICE drills. And what will happen is that they will actually come on the loudspeaker, and it will depend on the maturity of the students,” Proffitt said.