Over the past several years, we have seen a dramatic increase in school shootings. As the experts analyze these horrific events, it has become clear that schools need to change their approach in dealing with active shooter situations.
We need to not only take steps in an effort to prevent a shooting from occurring, but we also need to be proactive in training our students and staff on procedures that will help increase their chance of survival if a shooter ever came into our schools.
With this in mind, Tillamook School District has worked with law enforcement officials to train our staff on “A.L.I.C.E.” (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate), which is the most recent, research-driven response to an active shooter.
In the past, staff was trained to lock doors, turn off their lights, move students away from the door and wait for law enforcement. While this strategy is appropriate for some situations, it is not always the right answer for every situation. A.L.I.C.E. provides training on more options for staff and students, so that in a serious life-threatening event, they can have the best chance at survival.
During Lockdown drills, staff will teach students different proven options that can be used to increase their chance of surviving an active shooter situation. We know that discussing and practicing for negative events such as fires, tsunamis and shooters can sometimes cause anxiety, but we also know that if we don’t practice, we won’t be prepared.
Here are some of the main points our staff will be discussing with their students (in an age appropriate manner) when we talk about an active shooter situation.
• Close and lock classroom doors immediately.
• If there is an active shooter IN the building, find the quickest and safest way OUT.
• If a shooter enters a room:
• Cause distractions to interfere with the ability to shoot accurately.
• Cause as much chaos in the room as possible to create sensory overload. o Do not be a stationary target.
• Run, scream, throw things escape as soon as possible.
You will notice that this a change from the past recommendation of having students hide under their desks or being grouped together in the corner of a room. Unfortunately, experience has shown that we need to take a different approach.
In no way are we asking staff or students to try to subdue an intruder. However, we will provide them with knowledge that, if faced with a life or death situation, there are methods that can be applied to greatly enhance their chance of survival.
National statistics say that the chances of having an active shooter in one of our Tillamook School District buildings is extremely slight. But, whether our students are in a school, a Portland mall or just their neighborhood, if a bad situation starts, this training should serve them well.
We invite you to talk to your children about these drills and the importance of them. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the school directly.
Curt Shelley is the superintendent of the Tillamook School District