In its continuing efforts to ensure safe and secure learning environments, Mobile County Public Schools this week began the hands-on portion of training in new, more proactive lockdown procedures and survival strategies for violent intruder situations.
MCPSS has contracted with the ALICE Training Institute to train administrators from each of its 88 schools with a combination of online and hands-on sessions. These administrators will return to their schools and train their faculty and students. Law enforcement officials and representatives from local private schools were also on hand for the hands-on portion of the training, which began this week.
ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, is designed to offer survival-enhancing options for a more proactive response to the threat of a violent intruder or active shooter event. The program is in line with recommendations from the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is currently in use by over 4,000 K-12 schools and nearly 1,000 postsecondary institutions around the country.
“It’s a better way to do things than we’ve done in the past,” said MCPSS Director of Security Andy Gatewood. “We’re learning that in many instances, a simple lockdown is not the best procedure to follow if there is an event on campus.”
The online portion of the training began earlier this spring. The hands-on portion began Tuesday, as ATI instructors shared statistics about active shooter situations that have occurred around the country; discussed when it’s advisable to evacuate, lock down or counter a violent intruder, depending on the age level of the classroom; and demonstrated barricading and countering techniques.
Administrators then put those techniques into use in a series of classroom active shooter scenarios. “They’re learning when it’s appropriate to evacuate, when it’s appropriate to take other measures and if the occasion arises to counter a person on campus, some techniques to do that and the ways to impart that on the students in an age-appropriate manner,” Gatewood said.
The administrators who are being trained over the next two weeks will take this training back to the faculty and students at their respective schools this summer and fall.
“We hope we never have to put this into practice. However, it is very important that we are prepared,” Gatewood said. “If there ever is an event where we need to put this into practice, we want the kids to know exactly what to do, the staff to know what to do. That’s our goal with the training we’re doing this week.”