Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Students at Soldotna High School watch a demonstration of a shooter coming after students, during an ALICE -  Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate - training  on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Students at Soldotna High School watch a demonstration of a shooter coming after students, during an ALICE - Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate - training on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

ALICE training reaches students

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Sunday, January 25, 2015 8:44pm
  • News

When it comes to dealing with a campus shooting incident, students in Soldotna have all been taught the same things — drop to the floor, be quiet and wait.

But as police and school administrators have learned, this tactic can result in more deaths as intruders walk into schools and find kids prone on the floor and vulnerable to attack.

Soldotna High School students learned to fight back during a training session with Soldotna Police Officer Tobin Brennan.

“If they’re coming into your classroom, if you’re in the commons and they come into the commons and you need to get out, I don’t want you to curl up into a little ball and hide under a table and wait for something bad to happen,” Brennan told several hundred students in the school’s auditorium. “I want you to throw stuff at him, I don’t care what — cell phones, pencils, books chairs, computers, anything you can find that’s not tied down that you can throw at them.”

Since August 2014, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has been working with police departments to implement a new kind of intruder response training known as ALICE, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

For many in the audience, it was the first time someone had told them it was alright to fight back.

Junior Drew Gibbs said Brennan’s message stuck with him. Gibbs has always been told to hide and wait.

“I think it’s better that they’re letting us leave the room and get out and get safe and actually fight back if we have to,” he said.

Gibbs also got the chance to test the theory when he volunteered, along with three other students, to simulate having a shooter on campus. Gibbs was given a Nerf gun while three other students were tasked with comparing the old training with their new training. During the first simulation, the three students dropped and covered and Gibbs strolled out onto the stage with the gun and was able to hit each of them. The second time, Brennan gave the three students several balls to throw at Gibbs and as they ran across the stage attacking him, Gibbs didn’t hit any of them.

“If a guy had a gun and I had nothing, I’d definitely throw something at him,” Gibbs said.

Brennan cautioned the students not to seek out an intruder just to fight.

“We want you to get out if you can,” he said. “The best way for you to survive an attack is to escape.”

The training students were given is different than what the police department has been implementing with teachers. Brennan said teachers spend two hours learning in-depth reactions and protocols. During the assembly, Brennan told the students not to be startled if they heard a teacher’s voice over the intercom. That teacher could be communicating the whereabouts of the intruder, trying to reason with intruder or mocking the shooter; the idea is to distract the violent person long enough to allow more students to escape. Alaska State Troopers and Kenai Police will conduct area training as well. Brennan said the program is modified even further to teach the Soldotna elementary schools, he said.

“You can’t walk into a kindergarten class and talk about tackling and things like that,” he said.

“A lot of the counter stuff isn’t even involved at that age. It’s more about hiding, barricading and escaping. That’s what we want them to be able to do.”

 

 

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Students at Soldotna High School assemble during an ALICe- Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate - training  on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Students at Soldotna High School assemble during an ALICe- Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate – training on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Students at Soldotna High School watch a demonstration oof students attacking a shooter, during an ALICE -  Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate - training  on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Students at Soldotna High School watch a demonstration oof students attacking a shooter, during an ALICE – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate – training on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

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