ALICE makes for safer Ferry schools

MARTINS FERRY – While students enjoyed having Martin Luther King Day off Monday, teachers received ALICE training from the Martins Ferry Police Department.

ALICE training teaches the administration, staff and teachers to know what to do if there is a shooter in school. ALICE stands for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate.

Training involved live scenarios with Sgt. Bob Walton and Officer Tom Sibert acting as the gunmen. Walton is the ALICE instructor for the Martins Ferry Police Department.

The scenarios started with groups of teachers sitting in a classroom. Someone would come across the loud speaker letting the teachers know that their was a shooter in the hallways. Walton and Sibert were armed with two pellet guns and a M-16 that shot blanks.

The teachers were given two scenarios, one with the old policy and one with the new procedure on lockdowns.

“The teachers are doing really well, but there is still a limited amount of reality involved in this because it is just scenario-based training, but they really get the barricade concept and they are locking their doors, preparing for evacuation,” said Walton. “I think they are getting a really good ideas what the new process will be about … This is important as it is a matter of life and death.”

Part of the new procedure includes several steps, including teachers barricading the doors of their classrooms. All Martins Ferry schools were put through this training.

According to Walton, the importance of ALICE is to introduce other options to increase survival. These are the first scenarios done in Ferry schools since the program was initiated.

“I thought the teachers were incredible. They know the severity if a situation like an active shooter arises, they know that these children, we are responsible for them,” said Jim Fogle, Ayers Elementary principal and ALICE instructor for the school. “Our staff took it really serious because it is serious and because society has dictated to us that we have to be proactive.”

Fogle stated that this gives teachers options. The other plan did not, which Fogle states is no one’s fault, it was what everyone did.

“Sgt. Walton and Officer Sibert did excellent. We have the best working relationship with our police department. I can’t say enough about them,” said Fogle. “This training is just enhancing our lockdown procedures and it is not over and it is a process, it’s not a one-size fits all but again it gives options we never had before.”

Fogle said that they are planning for more ALICE training scenarios in the spring.

“The hardest part of the day was getting the staff to accept the training and realize that it is a true possibility that it can happen and the fears that come with it can be overcome with training and exposure to real life simulations,” said Walton.

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