What do you need to know about the ALICE training?
Photo by Katerina Holmes
When it comes to schools and higher education institutions, parents are mainly preoccupied with how well their children do. While optimal academic performance is important, there’s another element that should come before academics – safety.
In recent years, there’s been a rise in the number of school shootings, and this has only highlighted the importance of the protection and safety of both students and school staff. Many schools are now implementing safety protocols such as ALICE to help prepare the students for potential emergencies that arise as a result of an armed intruder or active shooter entering the building. It’s important that everyone involved, including the student’s parents, understands such federally endorsed safety protocols. With that in mind, here’s what parents need to know about the ALICE training.
What does ALICE stand for?
ALICE is an acronym composed of five different ways to respond to an emergency. Starting with letter A which stands for Alert, this option involves raising awareness about the threat by providing as much information as possible. Next, the letter L stands for Lockdown. The students and the staff lockdown and barricade the building rather than fleeing. This is often the best option in cases where evacuation is not possible due to safety reasons.
Next, the letter I stands for Inform. The students and the staff spread the word in real-time, giving as much information as they can. This is the step where they contact 911 and First Responders. C means Counter, and in this option, students are encouraged to stop the intruder from taking action rather than them being passive, usually by distracting them. This option is the last resort in situations where the intruder has entered the space where the students are. Finally, the letter E stands for Evacuate and involves exiting the building when it is safe to do so.
What is ALICE training and what does it involve?
An armed intruder entering a school building is an unlikely event. Still, institutions such as these should take no chances when it comes to their students and staff’s safety. This is why there are protection and safety protocols in place such as ALICE. Now, aside from knowing what it stands for, many parents are wondering about what is an ALICE drill and what this procedure involves.
A safety protocol relying on several different strategies, drills such as ALICE are there to prepare the students and staff for a potential emergency and therefore increase their chances of survival. Of course, the response will largely depend on the situation at hand. In some cases, evacuating the building when there’s an armed intruder is the best option. Other times, this may not be safe or even possible. In such instances, the teachers and students may respond with a lockdown or by barricading the doors.
Is there an order in which you should follow ALICE?
ALICE training and drill help prepare everyone involved by practicing different response strategies. Still, the response of students and staff will largely be influenced by the circumstances of the event.
There is no one order in which they should follow ALICE. Think of it as a list of options rather than a list of tasks that students and staff need to complete. Some may choose lockdown, some may flee. Others, however, may be in a situation where they have no other option but to counter the armed intruder. They can do so by distracting them, e.g. throwing objects at them rather than physically confronting them. In the case of a school shooting, the goal is that students and staff remain active rather than passive.
Why is ALICE training being implemented?
We’re all aware that no one can really tell when, where, and why an emergency will occur. A violent intruder may enter a school at any time, or it may never happen at all. Certainly, schools these days are equipped with safeguards that are there to provide protection and safety to students and staff. This is a great way to address this common problem many students are facing these days.
But just like a fire drill, ALICE training can come in handy, helping you navigate unpredictable and critical situations with more ease. What’s more, the skills and the level of preparedness that come with the completion of this drill are something that students and staff can use even when they’re not at school, which is why this training is being implemented in a growing number of schools.
When it comes to safety, preparedness is key
No one knows why active shootings happen. In the same fashion, no one can really tell when and where these rare events may take place. What’s important is that there are options, that students and staff are aware of that, and that their response is proactive, which is precisely what ALICE training is about.