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ALICE training focuses on ways teachers, students can stay alive in worst-case scenarios

Local school district takes a new approach for training teachers on how to deal with threat of an active school shooter. 

Teachers at Portage Public Schools recently took part in a series of training exercises that, the instructor says, takes a new and different approach to dealing with the worst-case scenario of an active shooter.

It’s called ALICE, an acronym standing for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

Nate Slavin, a Portage School Resource Officer, said the training gives both teachers and students a better opportunity to stay alive in the event of an active shooter inside the school.

“When I saw what we were doing here [in previous years], it made no tactical sense whatsoever,” Slavin said, referring to the previous training that he said emphasized a lockdown approach.

Slavin said although there is a time and a place for the lockdown approach, where students and teachers lock the doors and turn off the lights in the classroom, all too often that approach leaves students and teachers vulnerable.

“With ALICE, there’s a list of proactive strategies,” he said. “In a fire, nobody would lock themselves in a room and wait for help, so why are we doing that with active shooters.”

In a series of training sessions and drills, teachers practiced encouraging students to run away if they can, while also potentially attacking the hypothetical shooter if the option presents itself, by throwing any and all objects at the shooter.

ALICE also takes more of a community approach to dealing with the threat of a possible shooter. Slavin said Portage recently sent out letters to residents living near Portage Schools, encouraging them to be alert for any sort of threat, and to be prepared to take in students into their homes in the event they must flee a nearby school.

“People are going to want to know what to do if 20 kindergartners show up on their back porch someday,” he said. “This sheet we’re giving them will help them help us in the aftermath if the worst happens.”

Slavin said the training proved to be a culture shock for some teachers, due to the old strategy that teachers were taught for so many years.

Portage Northern High School Assistant Principal Nate Ledlow echoed those sentiments.

“Most school shooter training drills were invented in the 1970s, when the big threat was seen as a someone driving by and shooting at schools from the outside,” Ledlow said. “This is different.”

Officer Slavin said it is his hope that other districts and schools in the area offer similar training.

“This training is offered to any school, daycare, business, or house of worship for free,” he said.

For more information on ALICE training, email Nathan Slavin, Portage Public Schools Safety Officer, at nslavin@portageps.org


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