ACS trains for active-shooter scenario

The A.L.I.C.E. training focuses on steps to take to stay safe during an active shooter situation until law enforcement personnel arrive. (File)

The A.L.I.C.E. training focuses on steps to take to stay safe during an active shooter situation until law enforcement personnel arrive. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – For Thompson Middle School resource officer Steve Armstrong, seeing images from the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech hit close to home.

“It can happen anywhere,” Armstrong said during an Oct. 14 interview. “You don’t think it can happen in Alabaster, Alabama, but the same issues are in Alabaster that are in the rest of the world.”

After the Virginia Tech massacre, law enforcement and school personnel learned a great deal about ways to plan for and survive an active shooter scenario at an educational institution, Armstrong said.

At Virginia Tech, some students attempted to hide in classrooms, while others attempted to flee or fight back against the aggressor.

“Basically, everything took a turning point after the Virginia Tech shooting,” he said. “Some did what they were taught to do, and turned out the light and hid in the classroom. Another class barricaded the door, resisted and even jumped out of windows.”

Armstrong said some were injured after fleeing the classroom, but none were killed in the incident.

“The question was raised, ‘Why are people being taught to turn off the lights and wait to be a victim?’” Armstrong added.

In response to the Virginia Tech shooting, law enforcement personnel across the nation developed A.L.I.C.E. training, which stands “Alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.”

In December 2013, Alabaster City Schools approved a partnership with the Alabaster Police Department to offer A.L.I.C.E. training in the city’s schools. Officers offered the first session for ACS faculty members, and held hands-on training at Meadow View Elementary School.

During the training at MVES, faculty members served in various roles, such as police officers, students and teachers, in a mock live-shooter scenario at the school.

“It’s a great program, and a great partnership between Alabaster City Schools and the police department,” said ACS Student Services Coordinator Dorann Tanner. “We are excited to get that type of training.”

Over the next few months, police will hold similar hands-on training sessions for faculty members at each of the city’s schools before the faculty members begin training students in early 2015. All training will focus on how to save the most number of lives in the event of a school shooting.

“In that scenario, our job as police officers is to stop the killing,” Armstrong said. “If we can get everyone to defend themselves, it becomes a group effort to stop the killing.”