Iowa school and community leaders are learning how to survive a deadly situation. A new program is teaching them survival skills, but to work, they will have to forget what they have been taught in the past.
“We have to get out of that mandated response of a mandated lockdown,” says A.L.I.C.E trainer Shawn Slezak.
Slezak works in the Story County Sheriff’s Office and says what most schools do now leaves students like “sitting ducks”. A.L.I.C.E is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.
“What it’s doing is providing options,” he says.
People in any work or learning environment are instructed to use any means possible to get away from a violent intruder. In a classroom, that could mean throwing books, backpacks or chairs before running away or facing the shooter.
“A lot of times people look at me and say there’s no way an unarmed person can take down a gunman and they saw it today,” says Slezak.
At a drill at a vacant Des Moines school, the 35 trainees used tennis balls to distract the shooter armed with an air gun.
“Anything that’s going to increase the survivability of our students in a situation such as this is absolutely something we need to look into,” says Mike Lord, Des Moines Public Schools Director of Elementary Student Services.
Lord is one of the latest educators to get A.L.I.C.E training. At the end of the two-day session, the class with take what it learned back to their schools, businesses, departments and churches. They leave with survival skills they hope they’ll never have to use.
“This is common sense, but it’s common sense that isn’t common knowledge,” says Slezak.