“Active Shooter” in schools training programs – Is one better than another?

kids in drills“Fifth grade students, from left, Nishal Suchuri, Ricardo Whacley, and Victorine Ndume, position themselves against a row of lockers at Forest Hills Community Learning Center in Akron, Ohio, as part of a recent drill designed to train them on how to respond if a gunman comes onto their K-5 campus.” — Angelo Merendino for Education Week

In the SCHOOL BRIEFS in today’s LNP – Always Lancaster, a brief states, “Columbia Borough school board members were impressed Feb. 1 with a report on a districtwide in-service training day focused on school safety.” A part of the day’s three-part training day included A.L.I.C.E. – a program


“ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training instructor led classes provide preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals intent on conveying a political message through violence, ALICE Training option based tactics have become the accepted response, versus the traditional ‘lockdown only’ approach.” – Company Website

This Atlantic article states, “Schools can’t prepare for the unexpected, but they should certainly try,” and traces the founding of ALICE and the unsettling nature of armed intruder “trainings” in schools.

An article in Education Week, “Do Schools’ ‘Active-Shooter’ Drills Prepare or Frighten?” looks into the training platforms that abound.

In the article, “Outspoken school safety consultant Kenneth Trump, who regularly writes about ALICE training, says it’s not supported by evidence and ‘preys on the emotions of today’s active shooter frenzy that is spreading across the nation.’ Trump and other critics say schools shouldn’t train young children in the ALICE response when school shootings, typically the focus of such drills, are statistically rare.

And, this National School Safety and Security Services article claims “The co-creator of ALICE training admits that there is not one known ALICE-trained school that has ever used the controversial ALICE “counter” technique where students are taught to throw things and attack armed gunmen.”

active shooter PSPClick on the to enlarge.

The Pennsylvania State Police has FREE ACTIVE SHOOTER TRAINING: If your school, business or organization would like to receive free training regarding active shooter response, contact the PSP Domestic Security Section. – Pennsylvania State Police facebook page.

HSEEP volumes

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Programs (HSEEP – Volumes I through V) provide agencies, entities and organizations with “a set of guiding principles for exercise programs, as well as a common approach to exercise program management, design and development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning. HSEEP exercise and evaluation doctrine is flexible, adaptable, and is for use by stakeholders across the whole community and is applicable for exercises across all mission areas – prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery.”

Axiomatic in the HSEEP is a progressive stance in exercise management and execution. “This progressive approach, with exercises that build upon each other and are supported at each step with training resources, will ensure that organizations do not rush into a full-scale exercise too quickly. Effective planning of exercises and integration of the necessary training will reduce the waste of limited exercise resources and serve to address known shortfalls prior to the conduct of the exercise.”

What’s the best way to prepare for those eventualities that “are never going to happen – but do?” Follow the accepted nationwide National Incident Management System guidance that’s regularly reviewed and updated based on lessons learned.

Other helpful and mostly free resources can be found here:

RUN HIDE FIGHTClick on graphic to enlarge.


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