Southern Lehigh School District Adopts New Active Shooter Response System

Kennah Salvo, News Editor

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ALICE is an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. It is intended to be a more dynamic approach to a traditional “stay and hold” lockdown structure. All students in Southern Lehigh School District were trained in this new active shooter response procedure at the beginning of this school year. Staff and teachers were trained last August, before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The more unique aspect of ALICE is the “evacuate” component, which allows students and teachers to leave the school if they deem it the safest option. ALICE was established by Greg Crane and is the first program of it’s kind that equipped students and staff with options in an active shooter situation. Crane refers to these situations as violent critical incidents (VCIs). He developed the system that would become ALICE in the wake of the Columbine shooting in order to keep his wife, who was an elementary school principal, and her school safe.

“We have the option to run or stay, and we have talked about ways to barricade,” senior Jacob Stanten said.

Biology teacher Mrs. Adrienne Searfoss offers her full support of the ALICE program.

“I feel equipped to be able to make good decisions. I think that we just need to continue to practice and drill with the students,” she said.

ALICE, however, does present a few issues. While ALICE allows for judgement calls for everyone’s safety, the judgement calls create a less orderly situation.

“You couldn’t solely rely on the nurse or [Officer McLaughlin] to be a first responder. Everyone is a first responder.” school nurse Barbara Bracalente said.

This could mean students with first aid training helping tend to their injured classmates, or students without training lending a hand to people in shock or who have been injured so they can get to safety and get treatment.

“Police have to adapt a little bit too, again because I’m not going into a building and expecting everyone to be locked down in one place,” School Resource Officer Brian McLaughlin said. “I have to know that it is going to a very dynamic situation, people moving, but it’s for the positive.”

In addition to ALICE, the district is revisiting the procedure for whom they allow in the building, sprucing up student assistance programs to provide better access to mental health services, and setting up an email for those with safety concerns to communicate with district administrators. The email address is [email protected]

Other institutions around our community have adopted similar systems. Lutron Electronics adopted a run-hide-fight system, which is similar to ALICE.

ALICE brings a fresh approach to a traditional lockdown that has been well received all across the district by parents, students, and staff.

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