Eagle Update: More tools for cases of school shooting

Over the past several years, our nation has witnessed a dramatic increase in school violence and school shootings. As experts analyze these horrific events, it is apparent that we need to do more, not only taking steps in an attempt to prevent the event from occurring, but training of students and staff on procedures that we all need to survive an active shooter in our schools.

If you look at what has occurred in our schools and colleges throughout the country it is evident that if an armed intruder wants to get into any school building, there is a good chance that they probably will succeed. The fact is, even though the New Ulm Public Schools has taken great steps in the matter of securing our school buildings, i.e. adding safe and secure entrances to all buildings, having monitored entry systems and updating the camera systems throughout our school buildings, one question still needs to be answered. What if?

In the past, schools across the country have answered that question with a method we call Lockdown. This method is designed so that in the event an unauthorized person enters the school buildings or grounds, a Lockdown alert is given and students and staff are instructed to lock their classroom with lights outs and to hide in a far corner of the classroom. This is probably the procedure that you as parents followed some years ago. However, does this provide the best option to protect our students and staff?

History has shown that Lockdown is a tool that we all should use, but is it the only tool that we should be using? The answer to that can be found by the number of students that have been killed or seriously wounded during school shootings, students that were shot and killed hiding under a desk or huddled up in a corner of a classroom, library or cafeteria. Can we expect a fully armed person that enters our school buildings; with the intent to do harm to our children, simply leave when they find that the classroom door is locked? Knowing what we know about active shooters in school building and other public places, the answer is NO. They have already made the decision to kill when they armed themselves and entered that building.

Another known fact is that in almost all of the shootings that occur in schools, the shooter usually creates as much carnage as they can in a short period of time and then kill themselves before police even arrive. So, how do we give our students and staff a greater chance of surviving an active shooter? We give then more tools.

New Ulm Public Schools has adopted a new policy and procedure that we, as well as experts across the country, believe will increase the chance of survival during an active shooter incident. This new procedure will teach our staff and students the A.L.I.C.E. system.

Alert -Get the word out!

Lockdown -Good starting point. We will continue to lockdown students in a secure area.

Inform -Communication keeps the shooter off balance and allows for good decision making.

Counter – Apply skills to distract, confuse and gain control.

Evacuate – Reduce the number of potential targets for the shooter.

In short, using the above ALICE method we teach our students and staff in the event an armed intruder/active shooter evades their secure area they:

1. Listen carefully to the location and type of event.

2. Get to and /or remain in a secure area until it is safe to evacuate.

3. Should an armed intruder/active shooter evade their area, apply skills to Distract, Confuse and gain control.

4. As soon as it is safe to do so, Evacuate.

In closing, in NO WAY are we asking or teaching our students or staff to make any attempt to subdue an armed gunman outside of their secure area. However, we will provide them the knowledge that if faced with a life or death situation there are methods that can be applied to greatly enhance their chance of survival. The methods that will be taught in the event an armed gunman directly confronts them are:

• Cause distractions to interfere with the ability to shoot accurately

• Cause as much chaos in the room as possible to create sensory overload

• Do not be a stationary target

• How to control the attacker using body weight, not strength

• How to interact with responding Law Enforcement

Training will emphasize that the best way to survive an active shooter is to escape. When that is not possible, being mentally prepared and having been given the authority and ability to act will save lives.

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