|School staff, teachers are first line of defense|
|Wednesday, January 23, 2013 3:21 PM|
DELPHOS — “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation…” Then there was an abrupt crackle and whine emitted from the microphone attached to the PA system. “Attention, attention, code purple, code purple. There is an intruder in the building,” Principal Miller spoke with a calm, yet rigid voice.
A silence fell across the room and the students’ eyes turned to their teacher, Mr. Smith, who immediately sprung up from his desk and went into action.
Without hesitation, each student followed the procedures they practiced time and time again, sprinting to the classroom doors ensuring they are locked, gathering desks and chairs to build a barricade at the doorways and positioning themselves to engage the intruder with a barrage of textbooks.
This fictitious scenario is not unlike the real-life simulations taught by the Delphos Police Department during ALiCE training with Delphos City Schools staff and administration on Tuesday.
School safety has been in the forefront of everyone’s mind. While the nation struggles with the aftermath of the Newtown massacre and questions about school safety, teachers, school administrators and law enforcement officials have been scrambling for answers.
Sergeant Mark Slate and Officer Ryan Kimmet of the Delphos Police Department presented the crisis training program ALiCE, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Information, Counter and Evacuation. The program is geared to prepare first responders to think on their feet and choose the options that save lives if they would encounter an intruder or active shooter.
The session began with Slate describing grim details of some of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. There have been 78 documented school shootings since 1978.
In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold plotted for a year before they killed 13 people and wounded 24 more at their Columbine High School. They then committed suicide. Seven years later, Duane Roger Morrison entered Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado and took six female students hostage, sexually assaulted each of them and released five of them one by one. As law enforcement stormed the classroom, Morrison killed the last hostage and turned the gun on himself. Five days later, in Nickel Mines, PA, Charles Carl Roberts IV stormed a one-room Amish schoolhouse with three guns, sent the boys and adults outside, barricaded the doors with two-by-fours and then shot 11 girls “execution-style”, killing three people before committing suicide. Two of the wounded girls died later.
The reality check, of sorts, brought the room of educators to a somber, yet unified mind-set. Principal John Edinger spoke on the opening segment of the training.
“It was eye-opening and sickening. Taking the lives of innocent kids. ” Edinger spoke earnestly. “The Newtown shooting reminds me of the precious lives we have to protect.”
Coaching the faculty in lock-down procedures includes ensuring all participants are aware of the proper codes announced during an intrusion, teaching hands-on self-defense mechanisms, creating effective door barricades, developing and learning contingency evacuation plans and establishing safe sites after an evacuation. In addition, there have been situations where students were in a lock-down situation for hours. Slate recommends that teachers have an emergency kit prepared in case a situation should warrant.
“The kits should include bandages, snacks and even tampons, which would be useful to stop the bleeding of any wounds,” Slate affirmed. “Take the plastic liner out of a metal trash can and use it [the trash can] as a toilet.”
If an intruder storms a classroom armed with a weapon, the staff and teachers are instructed to use a self-defense mechanism like forcefully throw any object, like books or computers, to render the intruder unbalanced and make him or her an easier target for a hands-on counterattack.
Prior to the beginning of the school year, staff and teachers began the first part of the ALICE training, where the staff viewed clips from the Columbine shooting and delved into the mind of an active shooter.
“There are always flaws in the system.” Edinger stated. “No matter how prepared we are, an intruder will get in and do what ever they are going to do. Instead of being sitting ducks, this program gives us control and allows us to be aggressive. We have a proactive police department that work hands-on and genuinely cares for the community. Additionally, the parents ‘step up to the plate’ and are always supportive when dealing with student and school issues.”
Edinger and the teachers are very enamored with the ALICE training, the Delphos Police Department and the support of the community, as a whole.
|Last Updated on Friday, February 01, 2013 11:40 AM|