A.L.I.C.E. is an acronym, which stands for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate. The program was originally created in 2001 by Greg Crane, a police officer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. His wife was the principal of an area elementary school and he wanted to create a better system for helping keep teachers and students safe in the event a shooter came into the school. Over several years Crane developed A.L.I.C.E. and it is now used nationwide.
Up until Crane developed A.L.I.C.E., the standard response done by teachers and students was to lock the door to the classroom (if possible), turn off the lights, huddle in a corner away from the door, and wait for police to arrive. This method, as demonstrated by the picture to the right, is known as lockdown.
The goal of A.L.I.C.E. is to show that going into lockdown is not the only option, and may not be the best option.
Vermillion Police Sergeant Ben Nelsen is trained in, and frequently presents A.L.I.C.E. to interested groups, both locally and regionally. In his presentation, Sgt Nelsen uses statistics compiled by the NYPD. The most recent stats cover all of the active shooting events which occurred around the world from 1966 until 2012. In that time, the US had 271 active shooting events occurring at many different kinds of locations, including schools, churches, office buildings, and malls. In those events, the shooter (usually a lone male) either committed suicide or was killed by police eighty-three percent of the time. Of those who were taken alive (16%), many were heard saying they wished they had killed more victims before apprehension. The shooter ran away from the scene less than one percent of the time. These statistics and comments show that the perpetrators of these heinous acts are not in their right minds. Most of them go into the situation with no intent of living through it. Thus, trying to talk a shooter down during the event is unlikely to succeed.
This is simply warning people in the building about the danger. While calling the police for help is important, people should remember that they shouldn't call until they are in a relatively safe place.
Sometimes the best option for people is to hide in a room, lock the door, and turn out the lights. If this is your best option, then those hiding should strongly consider putting up a barricade.
A proper barricade can save the lives of people in the room. The best barricades are heavy objects put in front of a door that would prevent it from opening. In the picture below you can see a student and a teacher placing a bookcase in front of a door that opens into the room. For doors that open out, a 2x4 and tie down strap can prevent a door from opening.
Barricades work because they make the room harder to enter. The shooter knows that they have a very limited amount of time before the police arrive. They are seeking easy targets and don't want to spend time trying to get into room.
The idea is that a person with access to a camera system and some kind of PA system could provide real-time updates on the shooter's location to other people in the building. This would give them the information needed to know if they should try and leave the building or stay in their room and lockdown. This information would also be valuable to the first responding law enforcement officers so they know where to go to confront the shooter.
This is meant as a last resort measure when shooter is in your area and you must fight for your life. When in this situation, people must remember they are fighting not only for their right to go to family Christmases, watch their children grow up, get married, and grow old with their spouse, but they are also fighting for the other people in the room. This is especially true in schools. When fighting for their life, people must give it everything they have.
Since many people don't carry weapons, they have to use improvised weapons they can find around them. Things like chairs, fire extinguishers, computer monitors, thick books, and even cans of soup can all make for an effective weapon. Many examples exist where unarmed people were able to subdue a gunman and save countless lives.
This is the first and best choice for people who find themselves in an active shooter situation. Getting out of the area where the shooter is keeps a person from getting shot or potentially taken hostage.
Evacuating should only be done when a reasonably safe route of escape exists. Running through an area where the shooter is located should not be done unless no better alternative is present. An often over looked option of escape is windows. If cornered in a room with a large window, breaking the window and leaving may save the people inside. During the Virginia Tech shooting, a teacher saved the lives of all but one of his students by having them jump out the windows of their second story class room.
The best way to sum up A.L.I.C.E. is to think of Run, Hide, Fight. If a shooter enters your building, run. If you can't run, hide. If you can't hide, then fight. If you must fight, then hold nothing back. A video made by the City of Houston call Run, Hide, Fight came out a couple years ago and provides good information. It can be viewed on youtube.com at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0.
For more information, or to request an A.L.I.C.E. presentation, contact Lieutenant Ryan Hough at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 605-677-7070.