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Examiner
  • Schools rethinking response to 'active shooter' crisis

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  • Some school districts are slightly rethinking the way they train for safety regarding one horrific scenario.
    The Independence School District this summer will implement a new program to train for what law enforcement calls an “active shooter” incident – a gunman loose in a school.
    “This is for the folks inside and the survivability of the folks inside,” said Dave Lamken, a former Independence police officer who is the district’s director of public safety.
    At a meeting of local emergency managers earlier this month, he outlined a new training course, ALICE, short for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. The training starts this summer, and Lamken said everyone in the district will have it by February.
    It’s a variation, with more depth, on the “run-hide-fight” concept that’s been in use, Lamken said.
    The idea is to think beyond hiding in a room when a shooter or other violent intruder is on the loose. Evacuate through a window. In a high school setting, perhaps, if an intruder can be disarmed, a number of students could tackle him and sit on him until help arrives. It empowers teachers and others to consider more options.
    “To me, it’s a very logical kind of thing,” Lamken said.
    John Ruddy, assistant superintendent of support services in the Fort Osage School District, said the idea is to tell teachers that “you make professional decisions every day. This is another one of them.”
    Ruddy stressed that such an approach isn’t the entire answer to school readiness. Identifying and evaluating potential problems in advance remain critical.
    Should a teacher have her students flee and hide? Should they fight?
    Ruddy put it this way: “It’s their choice, and their choice isn’t wrong.”
    “It’s empowering them to have options for survivability,” Lamken said.
    “I think the worst thing we can do is cower in the corner and wait for the guy to come in and shoot them,” said Mike Curry, Jackson County’s director of emergency preparedness and homeland security.

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