Because of violent attacks on school campuses, like Columbine and Virginia Tech, administrators across North America have made sure that every student and teacher memorizes one crucial safety lesson: If there’s an armed attacker at your school, lock every door – and hide until it’s safe to come out.
But today, police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama say that’s not always the best option. They’re now training teachers and students to run away if they can, and fight back, if they have to.
The new program’s called ALICE – short for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate. And one of the first lessons is to demonstrate what can happen when someone walks into a room with a toy gun. Everyone’s instructed to throw things at him. The result? The gunman instinctively tries to protect himself – which gives everyone a precious few seconds to run away. Students and teachers are also taught that if the attacker gets close enough, they should try to restrain them. A.B. Green – the police lieutenant who’s overseeing the training – says it’s almost impossible for one person to restrain another -especially if the person being restrained is a lot bigger. But if students and teachers attack in a pack – say, 5 or 6 people – odds are, the pack will win.
Lieutenant Green says it takes a lot of training to turn people’s natural instincts to flee or freeze into an instinct to fight. But with practice, it’ll become a reflex, and it could definitely save lives. And he believes that the A-L-I-C-E safety training program will soon be coming to a school district near you.