Nevada High School students put some valuable training into practice on June 4. The students participated in an ALICE drill, rehearsing what to do if a shooter ever forced their way into their school building.
At around 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4, a sheriff’s deputy acting as a shooter broke into the northeast door of the high school. As instructed from earlier ALICE training, some students barricaded themselves into their classrooms, while others escaped out of the building’s southwest exits. A teacher alerted the office to the dangerous situation, causing someone to make an announcement over the building’s loudspeaker. Police were pleased with students’ and staff’s response; the entire building was nearly evacuated in under four minutes.
ALICE - an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate - is designed to increase survivability in violent intruder situations by training students and staff how to react to a shooter depending on their location within a building. After the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, law enforcement and schools were forced to rethink their response when these types of incidents occur.
"We practice tornado and fire drills, why not a situation like this?," said Sergeant Matt Snyder of the Nevada Police Department. "Hopefully it will never, ever happen, but we are now trained for the situation."
Snyder and fellow officers of the Nevada Police Department were joined by members of the Story County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department in directing students and staff to a nearby rally point once they exited the building. If this were a real-life situation, these personnel would have been on the scene to give medical care for anyone needing it.
Snyder stressed that it should only be at the rally point location that parents come to pick up their children.
"One reason [for parents not to come to the school] is that we don’t want anyone coming in and putting themselves in danger," said Snyder. "We also don’t want them blocking any police, fire or EMS personnel responding to the scene. We need to get medical treatment to anyone who might need it and make sure everyone is safe at the rally point before parents can start getting their kids."
While previously the thinking was to go into lockdown (teachers and students locking themselves in a room), now law enforcement instructs students and teachers to exit the building if possible. Students were also shown how to lessen the chance of injury, including tactics like throwing objects at a shooter’s face, moving in a serpentine pattern, putting distance between and attacker and themselves and even swarming the shooter for high school students or adults.
With ALICE drills now complete at all Story County school districts, the county is the first in the state to complete training county-wide.