CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- From Charleston to Orlando and now, Townville, more cities are sadly dealing with the tragedy of shooting situations-- and that's sparking more interest in teaching people how to react to a person opening fire.
Monday, the ALICE Training Institute, which provides active shooter training to groups across the country, held a session in Charlotte. In attendance were members of school districts, police departments, religious organizations and a corporate HR consultant.
The training session was separated into two portions, with the latter taking the group through multiple active shooter scenarios. Groups were split up into groups, given walkie-talkie’s, like what most school officials carry, and sent into different parts of the office.
Over the radio, the trainer announced the first scenario: a traditional lockdown where little information was given about the shooter.
In just two minutes time, the trainer was able to enter the building, locate the trainees and simulate shooting all 11 of them. The point was to show that traditional lockdowns are no longer a best practice.
“It actually puts more children in harm’s way,” says David Nixon, deputy superintendent for Anderson School District 3, the same county as Townville Elementary School, which was recently targeted by a teen gunman accused of opening fire on the school’s playground, injuring three and killing 6-year-old Jacob Hall.
“With response times sometimes from law enforcement, especially in rural school districts like in our area, being up to 15 to 20 minutes, every second counts. So, the more that we can put teachers in the ability to make decisions and stretch that time out to separate an intruder from the actual students, the better off we’re going to be,” says Nixon.
In the next scenario, trainees were told to repeat the lockdown, except this time, they were told to barricade the doors with whatever was in the room. In one room, the group moved the desk in front of the door, stacked the chair on top to catch any shots fired through the door and took cover by getting low to the ground. In another room, the group propped a bike under the door handle and used their feet to hold it in place.
This time around the trainer was not able to get in.
“The three basic human responses to fear are is bite, flight or freeze, and we’re trying to train and prepare, get rid of the freeze aspect-- to do something,” said ALICE trainer George Hunter.
Hunter says after the training he encourages participants to go back to their offices or classrooms and evaluate its set-up, “say hey, we need to get that closer to a door so I can use it quick,” says Hunter.
Hunter says he’s also teaching people to dial 911 right away and to educate officials to give as much detailed information about the shooter as possible, including a description and location, so others in the building can try to flee.
“ALICE gives professionals an opportunity to have other choices. If you know the intruder is in one location and you can get students away from that location and out of harm’s way, it gives you the option to do that,” says Dixon.
Among the participants was Sam Myers, who works for the Beth Shalom synagogue in Clearwater, Florida. He says making the trip to Charlotte for this training was necessary after seeing shootings at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston.
“Terrorism has come to our shores now and we have to learn to take a different attitude and approach to it. We get threatening letters, we’ve had threatening letters. We take them very seriously,” says Myers.
ALICE training is available nationwide. You can learn more about them by visiting alicetraining.com.