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ALICE trainees learn how to respond to intruder
Volunteer Lane Turner (blue shirt) of Shoshoni schools was subdued by other ALICE trainees as trainer Shawn Slezak called for his release. Photos by Wayne Nicholls

ALICE trainees learn how to respond to intruder

Feb 11, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services helped facilitate the first Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate training -- or ALICE -- for local school resource officers, teachers, principals, businesses, law enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The diverse group participated in a two-day training that ended Tuesday at the BOCES center in Riverton and certified participants as instructors. Each now can take what was learned to teach and prepare others on what to do in response to an active shooter.

ALICE training comes with a set of strategies designed to increase the chances of survival during a shooting incident. It encourages a proactive response from people inside a facility as opposed to remaining passive victims, which now is believed to increase the chance of a casualty or injury.

The training was led by national trainer Shawn Slezak and included several scenarios that showed participants the likely casualties that would occur under different types of response to an attack.

He said more than 6 million people in the U.S. have received ALICE training, and more than 75 national instructors travel to other states to teach new instructors.

Slezak trained participants to try to understand how they or an armed intruder would think under certain situations.

"We talked a lot about how the mind works, how slow the mind is, the shooting platform, (and) how difficult it is to fire a weapon accurately," he said.

He explained that the strategies he would present were simply options that wouldn't guarantee everyone would survive, but the information would permit trainees to compare the outcomes of each scenario.

He stressed a response philosophy called ABN or "Anything Beats Nothing." He said creating barricades and other obstacles to interrupt a shooter's plan and progress could help create a time barrier which could increase the changes of a law enforcement response.

"Let's use that time to do something proactive," he said. "(Let's) create evacuation points (and) prepare a counter."

An intruder's tactics are not always the same, he said, and the response will always be different as well.

"There's no way you can defeat those tactics," Slezak said.

He said that if an intruder sees a lock, he'll do what he can to break it, but he won't know what people on the other side of the door will do. He encouraged everyone to commit to their actions if, for example, they decided to go into a hallway where an intruder was located.

"Don't forget to use your voice," he said. "You can control people with your voice."

In one scenario, participants were instructed to stay in one place, keep quiet, and shut the doors. In another scenario, Slezak had people run from the location of the incident and find an exit. A third drill had several people confront the armed intruder and attempt to seize the weapon.

BOCES administrative services director Jane Edelman, who was participating, was assigned the role of shooter and given an air-soft gun. The rest were given protective gear for their faces and ears. Slezak showed them how best to swarm a person with a weapon and make it difficult for the attacker to fire and at shoot accurately.

Deborah Brown, principal at Ralph Witters Elementary School in Thermopolis, saw the training as a great opportunity for her to be able to teach staff ways to respond to an attack and protect their students.

"This is an avenue for them to use their common sense," she said.

Teachers have concerns about their roles in this type of situation, she added, but training could help them set fear aside.

BOCES executive director Sandy Barton hopes to bring a second ALICE training to the county if more people are interested in attending. She said the overall goal would be to have all schools receive the training.

"You can never be prepared enough," Barton said. "And hopefully we'll never have to use it."

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