‘ALICE’ Active Shooter Training Program made available to staff

Category:  News
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 at 9:57 PM

Every day, students do the same basic routine, get out of bed, get ready and go to class. Every day, those students sit in class, learning in what they feel is a safe environment. They have seen cases like the Columbine shootings, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary School. But they think it will never happen here. What if it did? What would you do? How should you react?

“Nobody wants to talk about it, but there have been over 50 active shooter situations that have occurred this year. That number shocks people because only like a dozen have made it on national news,” Edinboro University Corporal Daniel Palka said. Palka has been a member of campus police for three years now and an Edinboro Firefighter for 12 years.

The ALICE Active Shooter training program prepares individuals on how to handle the threat of an active shooter. It teaches individuals to participate in their own survival while also helping others.

“While there is no guarantee of success, ALICE teaches individuals skills that will increase the odds of survival should an active shooter situation occur,” Edinboro University Police Chief Angela Vincent said in an email to all Edinboro University employees.

ALICE is the leading active shooter response program in the United States and it is now available on a voluntary basis to the university’s faculty, staff and students workers. After attending a week-long instructor course at Millersville University, Palka began holding classes for the program.

“The ALICE program is an active shooter program designed to give the basic civilian options on what to do. After situations like Virginia Tech, the program was developed because they started looking at that and trying to find a system that works,” Palka said.

ALICE is the leading active shooter response program in the United States and is gaining much attention. ALICE is an acronym that means alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

“Alert is how people become aware of the situation, whether it’s gunshots, seeing the individual with a gun, screams,” Palka said. “Lockdown is if you are in a classroom and someone is in the hallway, what do you do? You find a way to lock the door and barricade it with tables, chairs and things like that.”

The ALICE program also teaches individuals to be a harder target, which is where the barricade comes into play. When the study on the Virginia Tech shootings was done, it was found that there were classrooms that barricaded the doors and all of the students inside the room survived.

“Inform is more so, how do you inform other people of the situation and how to contact the police? Either dial 911, or here, by contacting (814) 732-2921 or 2911 to contact us,” Palka said.

Counter teaches preparation tactics.

“It teaches how to have what they call attack teams, where if you are inside of a room and they come in there and there is 10 people against one, you have an attack team. You swarm the person. Grab whatever you can like cell phones, books, use them as weapons. Start making chaos and creating havoc,” Palka said.

Palka added that counter aims at getting control of the situation, distracting the individual, and disrupting their plans. In doing so, you ruin the active shooter’s plan and gain control of the individual.

With “strength in numbers” as Palka put it, those 10 people can take down the active shooter and gain control while disarming them.

“Evacuate is pretty self-explanatory. If you can get out, get out. Evacuate is definitely going to be the number one thing out of all of that,” Palka said.

The program also teaches individuals what to expect from police, what to do and what not to do, creative thinking when it comes to weapons and safety, as well as the body’s reaction to fear through simulated gun fire and actual footage along with 911 tape of the Columbine shootings.

“The program is not made to scare anybody. It’s made to prepare them. Hearing that gunshot, letting you feel those reactions in your body. When you see the video, I always ask, ‘what’s running through your head?’ ‘What are you feeling?’ Get feedback on that. When the gunshot goes off and I get to the fear aspect, of course, you see the whole room jump or at least I do,” Palka said.

“Fear can be conquered by preparation and that’s why I do the gunshot and the video and stuff like that, preparing your body, ‘oh this is what I’m feeling,’” Palka said.

While the class is not mandated, Palka has received huge feedback from the classes he has taught with people wanting this program to be mandated. 

Looking ahead, Palka aims to have all new employees take this course as part of their orientation.

Additionally, Palka plans on creating a video with this information for every student, especially at freshman orientation, to see so that everyone knows what the program is.

“It’s a very intense training. It does get your heart beating a bit sometimes. I try to make it as realistic as I possibly can,” Palka said.

“The training is a great resource for people on campus so they are prepared for even the most unlikely of events. I appreciate that our police officers provide this training and I know our employees are grateful for the opportunity to be prepared and knowledgeable about what to do in the case of an active shooter,” said Edinboro University President Dr. Julie E. Wollman.

In getting the word out on the ALICE Active Shooter training, faculty, staff and students can be better prepared should an unpredictable event like this occurs on campus. 

Karlee Dies is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com

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