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Ludlow Public Schools to practice ALICE tactics

Anna Belculfine, Editor-in-Chief

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“The threats to our schools have changed from fires to active shooters, and we need to adapt our responses,” says Ludlow High School Resource Officer Jay Chelo.

Chelo is referring to more ALICE drills. ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.” Faculty and students use ALICE in the case of an active shooter in their school. ALICE is an “option-based drill,” where students have the chance to evacuate instead of just locking down and hiding in their class.

The normal protocol called for students to “shelter in place,” but this left some children more vulnerable and they ended up being sitting ducks like what occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007. If the shooter is on the other side of the building and students have the opportunity to escape, the ALICE tactic would call for them to “evacuate.”

“The name of this procedure is called ALICE, but that does not mean [the procedures] needs to be followed in order,” says Chelo. “You can jump right to the E, evacuate, and get out. This ensures your safety and drastically minimizes the amount of potential targets.”

According to the ALICE website, this training program was created in 2002 by a former law enforcement officer, Greg Crane, and his wife Lisa who was an elementary principal. They came up with this idea after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. One night Crane asked his wife what their protocol at school was in the case of an active shooter, and she described the “basic lockdown procedure.”

The basic lockdown procedure was for students and teachers to lock themselves into the classroom and hide rather than evacuate, but they realized that this wasn’t always the safest strategy. Crane ultimately set out to create a plan and incorporated the strategies that he had used to help get through school shootings.

Chelo said that senior officers in his ALICE instructor class “showed how the traditional ‘lock down’ is not a reasonable response when faced with a potentially life and death event.”

ALICE so far has been widely practiced in all 50 states, and about 4,200 K-12 school districts are trained and practice it. The goal of practicing this drill is to improve chances of survival.

During Chelo’s ALICE instructor class about four months ago, there was a statistic mentioned that stood out to him. “There had been eight active shooter attacks on buildings that have had ALICE training, and the locations had suffered zero fatalities.”

“The Ludlow Police has been and will continue to teach ALICE at all levels in the school system, in an attempt to get it to be a second nature,” says Chelo.

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