ALICE workshop prepares students and faculty for active shooting situation

Category:  News
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 4:56 PM

An active shooter has become a fear for families, students, and faculty alike as the horrific events of Columbine, Newton and, just recently, Ohio State demonstrate that no one and no institution is completely safe from the target of a shooter.

"I don't sugar coat anything," said Corporal Daniel Polka at an Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) training workshop.

Polka, who has been with the Edinboro University Police department for four years, and also works part time with the Cambridge Springs Police Department, gave the presentation on ALICE.

"This training is intense, but all of it is very real. There have been 40 active shooting incidents just this year, even though only a few of those have made national news," Polka said.

According to the FBI, 24.4 percent of active shooter situations occur on college campuses and other educational institutions.

The 90-minute training course walked students through the steps of the ALICE safety strategy. EU students, faculty and employees alike can go through the training.

The main idea of the ALICE active shooting program is to empower victims of an active shooting situation, so they can actively participate in protecting themselves. It aims to do that by having civilians follow the ALICE procedure.

“Alert” is the procedure that a civilian goes through when they first become aware that they are in the midst of an active shooter situation. Speed is an integral part of this step, meaning that they must get to a safe place immediately.

“Lockdown” is the next recommended course of action. This is when the civilian creates a barrier between themselves and the active gunman, by using anything available to block possible entrances to a room.

"Use anything available to you in order to put a barrier between you and the gunman," Polka said.

“Inform” is the third step of the method, as this is when a civilian calls authorities and informs them of any information that they have on the situation.

"The information plaques around campus say to call 732-2911," Polka said, "but don't waste time with that, you can call 911 and they will inform us and outside authorities at the same time. Give them real time updated information, and if you do happen to see the gunman, give a head to toe description."

“Counter” and “Evacuate” are the last two steps of the program; it gives civilians the choice of analyzing their situation and deciding if it is safe to evacuate, or if an active gunman makes it through their barricade, how they will counter.

"Edinboro University does not make it mandatory for students to counter; do what you think is best for the situation you find yourself in," Polka said.

Edinboro University has currently not made the course mandatory for faculty and university employees.

"You'd think that it would be easy to establish this as something mandatory for employees, but there's more to it,"said Edinboro University’s Director of Communications Jeffrey Hileman.

However, Hileman also shared that the university has put forth other efforts to ensure that they are prepared in the case of an active shooter situation.

"We have set up an emergency response team, which is made up of two groups, one which deals with the facilities and tech aspect of things, and the actual emergency response team, which is lead by Jim Dale, director of environmental health and safety, and made up of President Walker, the vice-president, and other administration leaders. The emergency response team would be the one dealing with any situation should it occur."

Hileman added that the emergency response team was responsible for recent safety developments, such as the new EU shield app, which would allow students to alert campus police in case of an active shooter. He also said that Walker is adamant about making ALICE training mandatory for incoming freshman at orientation.

"I feel more prepared and better equipped to handle a situation like this if it does occur," said a student who attended the workshop. 

Shayma Musa is a staff writer for The Spectator.

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