Do You Know ALICE? Hudson Teachers Get a Hands-On Introduction

October 13, 2017

by Len Lathrop

Once again, our nation suffered an incredibly tragic outcome from the acts of a lone gunman.  At the latest report, one guy with guns shot and killed 59 and wounded more than 500 of our citizens.  This event will be listed as the highest mass casualty shooting event that the United States has suffered.

Little did anyone know the state of terror that the country would be in after the Las Vegas tragedy when this A.L.I.C.E. training was scheduled.  A.L.I.C.E., an easy to remember acronym:  A – Alert, L – Lockdown, I – Inform, C – Counter, E – Evacuate.

While no one ever wants to believe it can happen in their hometown, A.L.I.C.E. teaches people about their response options.  Simulations showed the three primary options:  evacuation, securing in place, and if necessary, countering the attacker and even taking back control of the environment, rendering it safe once more.  The teachers and staff were told that these are their options, but the event and its circumstances will dictate the proper response.

The school district teachers and staff members gathered in the Steckevicz gym on Oct. 6 where three certified A.L.I.C.E. trainers, two of the three work full-time as trainers and the part-time instructor was a member of the Tyngsborough, Mass., Police Department.  They explained about the A.L.I.C.E. program.

After some history and examples, the real statements of what they were doing in Hudson can be defined by two questions and answers – the first question was what fire extinguishers were for and the second involved the use of AEDs for the medical situations.  The day’s training was to give those involved the tools they need to do the best until the professionals get there when shots are heard.

Next came the simulation training that took place in three group settings of equal size (50-55) on the three main floors of Alvirne.  The initial meeting rooms for each simulation was the music room (first floor), gymnasium (second floor), and library (third floor).  Hudson Memorial and Hills Garrison staff members were scheduled for afternoon time slots.

As for ELC staff members, their training started in the Steckevicz where everyone was issued a face mask, very similar to fencing masks, and then they proceeded to a classroom on the second floor.  The instructors were continually lecturing about many things.  One interesting fact was how the country started using the lockdown concept started in Los Angeles in the ‘80s when there were drive-by shootings, and getting a child into a room away from windows started the procedure.  It was quickly pointed out, with examples from around the country, where students were found and attacked when hiding in bathrooms.

A shooter (bad guy) was chosen from the group, and the person was the one in the group who had the least experience with a firearm.  Teachers were told that there was an active shooter in the school and they should hide in the classroom.  When the shooter entered the classroom, nine out of 12 were shot.  This training used airsoft guns and plastic BBs.  Participants were told they will sting and can break the skin if the BBs hit bare skin.  Training and practice are needed to create the mental mindset and the physical skill set required to decrease the terrible outcomes of these senseless tragedies.

The second simulation was to show, when getting out is an option, that could be a much better decision.  The trainer mentioned that at Columbine the library, where some students were shot, had a second exit that could have been used.  Statistics show that getting out is much better in most situations and could save lives.  But the teachers were cautioned that getting out doesn’t mean taking personal items such as pocketbooks and computers.

Next the group worked on blocking doors, distracting the shooter by throwing things at him or her, even chairs, and using swarming techniques as a last option.

The bottom line seems that A.L.I.C.E. wants people to have several options when something terrible happens.

Speaking with some of the participants at the Alvirne football game, they were very positive about the training and yet hopeful that they would never need to use what they learned.