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Litchfield school staff to undergo active shooter response training

Union Leader Correspondent

February 24. 2018 12:54AM

LITCHFIELD — With school officials nationwide reviewing their security protocols in light of last week’s school shooting in Florida, local teachers are prepping for ALICE training next month — a program that emphasizes how to proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder.

“I think that obviously the events of last week make this training very poignant,” said Superintendent James O’Neill. “I think we are all looking at these events and asking why.”

The Litchfield School District began discussing the possibility of ALICE training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, last summer as a way to empower not only teachers, but every staff person in the district, according to O’Neill.

Representatives from the ALICE Training Institute will be on hand to train employees on how to respond if there is an active shooter on school grounds. The training provides not only the run, hide and fight model, but it educates teachers and staff on how to make informed and quick-thinking decisions such as countering or evacuating depending on the situation.

“If God forbid something happened, we want everyone to be on the same page,” said O’Neill, explaining the training offers strategies so that staff members are not passive during emergency situations.

Local teachers, secretaries, substitutes, custodians and other school staff members will begin preliminary online training on March 7; a two-hour delay has been scheduled to allow teachers to conduct the morning training session.

Then, on March 13 during a professional development day, ALICE representatives will be present at all of Litchfield’s schools for the hands-on training portion.

“I think the teachers will be intense about this,” said O’Neill, adding there will likely be some emotions involved given the recent tragedy in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

ALICE training is not a new concept, according to O’Neill, who said the Hudson School District and other districts throughout New Hampshire have been trained to use the program in an emergency situation.

“We felt this was the best thing for Litchfield to do based on research,” said the superintendent, explaining it as another tool in the district’s emergency management planning procedures.

O’Neill said the faculty was interested in participating in the ALICE training well before the shooting in Florida. However, the decision to offer them the training now seems timely given the circumstances, he explained.

“My colleagues and superintendents and professionals in the education business are extremely concerned and disturbed by these events, and we are all trying to do the best we can to keep our schools safe,” said O’Neill.

ALICE training is different than typical lockdown protocols where people may wait for law enforcement to respond.

During a Jan. 20, 2017 shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio, a gunman entered the school where staff was trained to use ALICE procedures. During that incident, students ran into rooms, barricaded doors, broke windows to escape and staff took the shooter to the ground and held him until police arrived five minutes later, according to a news release.

“This is the value of preparation. But to be prepared, we have to spend the time and effort to train everyone in their survival options, and then practice those skills,” Greg Crane, president and CEO of the ALICE Training Institute, said in a statement at the time.

ALICE, based in Medina, Ohio, is the nation’s first training program for citizens to increase their survival chances and save lives if faced with a violent intruder, according to the news release.

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