POMEROY — While everyone likes to think it won’t happen here, the truth of the matter is it can happen anywhere.
Last week Meigs Local staff spent a “waiver day” preparing for something they hope will never happen — an active shooter situation.
The ALICE Training session, which was originally scheduled to be held in January, instructs participants on the various ways they can potentially react during an active shooter or intruder situation.
ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, which is exactly what the training teaches the staff to do.
Unlike the traditional lockdowns which have been practiced for many years, ALICE teaches different response options based on situations or locations at the time of a potential incident.
Meigs Supt. Scot Gheen explained that the district wants to be proactive with having a plan in place before something may take place, rather than reacting after the fact when it is too late.
During the training, conducted by Eastern Middle School Principal and certified ALICE Instructor Bill Francis, teachers completed an online module, drills and had the opportunity to ask questions.
Gheen stated one of the biggest thing he and staff are asked is “are you prepared,” and while drills are conducted on a regular basis for lockdowns and fires, the recent training is a step toward being more prepared.
While you cannot practice every scenario, the training put staff through several situations which they could encounter if an active shooter or other violent intruder were in the building.
“No one should feel good about the prospect of an active shooter situation, but this should make you better prepared,” said Francis.
He added that the information learned through the ALICE Training can be implemented in places other than schools, such as shopping malls or churches.
Francis emphasized that he does not want teachers and students to have the mindset of “all you can do is sit and wait to die.” Turning out the lights, locking the door and sitting in the corner will not protect you, added Francis.
By completing the training and drills, the staff is better prepared and trained than most coming into the building would be, said Francis.
Another component of the ALICE Training is that teachers and staff are equipped with the information to make the decision on what is best for them and their students without having to wait on instructions that may or may not come.
One example is that someone in the office could announce a shooter in a specific part of the building. A teacher on the opposite end of the building would then have the knowledge to decide if it is best to evacuate or to lockdown based on the location given.
ALICE Training began after the shooting at Columbine High School, with a law enforcement officer and a teacher deciding that there had to be a better way than the lockdown.
Gheen stated that the training was an important first layer of school safety, with the program eventually taught to the students so that they will know how to respond as well.
“We want to be as proactive as possible,” said Gheen.
“If you see something, say something,” concluded Gheen.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.
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