The latest FBI statistics are dismal, reflecting the highest average of active shooting incidents in the U.S. in a two-year period.
According to the FBI, 2014 and 2015 each saw 20 active shooter incidents. That’s more than any two-year average in the past 16 years, and nearly six times as many as the period between 2000 and 2001, the starting point for the FBI’s review.
Would you know what to do to keep yourself and others alive in these situations?
Going into lockdown has been the default for a number of years. That thinking is changing, however, and a new approach is gaining traction at schools across the country.
It’s a two-day training program known by its acronym, ALICE, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.
At its heart, the program is intended to help anyone who finds themselves in such situations understand that they cannot wait for first responders to arrive to take action.
Earlier this month, several schools participated in an ALICE training session at Batesville High in southeastern Indiana.
A police officer acted as the “shooter,” and his instructions were to shoot as many people – in lockdown in several classrooms – as possible (with a Nerf-like gun) in five minutes.
“He got into all three rooms and shot almost everybody (many ‘fatally’) in 1 minute and 26 seconds,” ALICE trainer Ed Dorff told the Herald-Tribune newspaper.
In a second scenario, which took place in the school cafeteria, “the shooter got in there in less than a minute-and-a-half and shot almost everyone,” Dorff said.
ALICE training is designed to help change the odds, giving teachers, students, as well as workers at businesses across the country, a new way to respond to violent intruders.
Going into lockdown mode just isn’t enough, according to the ALICE approach.
Instead, the response should be proactive, meaning putting a priority on evacuation if at all possible.
ALICE prescribes running away from danger when it is safe to do so and using nontraditional exits if necessary, including breaking through drywall.
ALICE also promotes – albeit as a last resort – distracting a shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. It trains people to move toward exits while making noise, throwing objects or, for adults, swarming the shooter.
“Traditionally, the response to active shooter and mass shooting situations has been to hide. However, regardless of where these events are taking place, there are options. There will always be a period of time between the beginning of the attack and the arrival of police. The question that begs to be asked is what individuals can do during that time to survive. There are ways in which individuals can be proactive in their own survival,” ALICE says on its website.
After the training at Batesville High, the ALICE instructors took the staff and children through the same scenarios. “There were a number of people who were evacuating, countering and swarming the shooter. … There were about three people getting hit in their arms and/or legs, and they were all nonfatal hits,” Dorff noted.
“Doing something is much better than doing nothing …. These active shooters are not trained individuals. The bad guys are hitting 50 percent or more of the people they try to shoot, and 40 percent are fatal shots” because the victims were all huddled together while trying to hide.
“They were sitting ducks.”
ALICE is helping change that.