What really is ALICE Training?
Watertown High School drills on best practices for worst-case scenario
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Alert. Lockdown. Inform. Counter. Evacuate. On Oct. 18, 2018, Watertown High School practiced these methods for safety in case it ever suffered the tragic event of a school shooting. The routines of locking down and evacuating were the most important parts that were practiced.
Over the loudspeaker, there would be an announcement, explaining that this was only a drill, there was a man with a gun in the building. They would alert everyone where in the building he was, and what he looked like and what he was wearing. Depending on where they were in the school, classes chose to either lockdown or evacuate. The class as a whole, though, didn’t make this decision together. It is an individual decision based on what each person feels safest doing.
In the classrooms, the lights would be turned off, doors shut and locked, window shades drawn. Some classes chose to barricade the door for extra safety. Everyone sat in a position they felt comfortable in, some hiding in the case the shooter were to enter the room.
Silence hung heavy in the rooms, with students looking around and teachers peering out the small windows in the door. Once there was an announcement a couple minutes later alerting everyone that the drill was over, everyone relaxed, the lights turned on, doors opened, and light shone through the windows again.
When there was the decision to evacuate, students left through a predetermined evacuation plan, the safest route for them to take depending on where their class was located in the school. Once outside, students stood in bunches, shaking and trying to stay warm as the cold air nipped through them, anticipating the signal to return into the school again.
Once all teachers and students returned to their class, they debriefed about that particular situation. Everyone explained what made them feel safest and why, and their overall experience.
ALICE training is not only practiced here in Watertown, but nationwide. According to its website, the founders of the ALICE Training Institute were inspired by the Columbine shooting in 1999, realizing that these things happen far too frequently to simply sit and wait. More than 1 million people are trained, along with many communities such as police departments, K-12 school districts, healthcare facilities, businesses, houses of worship and more. Since ALICE training has been practiced, there has been a significant decrease in the amount of fatal injuries and injuries in general in the event of a mass shooting.
A mass shooting is something that no one should ever have to experience, yet has been experienced by too many people, too many times. ALICE training accepts this fact and has taken things into their own hands, to keep everyone as safe as possible in these dark times.
(For more statistics and information about ALICE, please visit https://www.alicetraining.com/.)
–Nov. 8, 2018–
Winter Mahon is a member of the Raider Times staff.