Edison Local faculty, staff and administrators got a lesson in safety response following an ALICE training session on Monday.
More than 100 employees representing Edison High School, John Gregg Elementary, Stanton Elementary and the district office gathered in the EHS auditorium for professional development and participated in a PowerPoint presentation and discussion with Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr, which was followed by an active intruder drill. ALICE, which stands for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter and Evacuate, involves taking action when an incident occurs such as using tactics to subdue an intruder to fleeing to safety.
Sheriff Abdalla was joined by Capt. Tommy Koehnlein, who serves as school building safety coordinator for the JCSO, and spoke on the importance of being alert and responding to a situation. The sheriff said he’s instructed the program for the past six years and a majority of Edison’s staff had already undergone training and were receiving a refresher, but it was the first time for new members. The concept centers on awareness and communication and response options from lockdown to evacuation.
“I want you to trust what your gut instincts tell you,” he added, saying clear communication was key. “You want to provide real-time information and not use code words. Use plain language.”
During discussion, school officials said the district used a phone app to help share information. Other main points were to describe what the intruder is wearing and where they are going. Sheriff Abdalla added that those who are able to evacuate must leave their belongings, take a “Go Bucket” with supplies, go to a rally point and take attendance, while those who stay inside must learn ways to overpower the intruder and take control. He told the crowd to take a lesson from the tragedy at Uvalde, Texas.
“Like the video says, ‘Fight for your life. Don’t fight fair,’” he commented. “You’re either going to fight, flight or freeze. It’s going to be a personal choice.”
A brief question-and-answer session was held and Superintendent Bill Beattie noted that the district has a team of educators who were trained and certified to carry weapons in the event of an incident while local emergency crews were also responders He continued that school officials should also take initiative and question visitors about why they are on the premises.
“Overwhelmingly, it’s people at the school [who take back control] and stopped situations,” Sheriff Abdalla interjected. “Normal, everyday people took it upon themselves to act.”
The sheriff and Koehnlein then initiated the drill by acting as intruders. They scoured the building and attempted to gain access to classrooms as teams of school staffers built barricades to block doors and secure themselves. The officials then simulated a live-fire scenario using blanks and Principal Matt Morrison made frequent announcements indicating where the “intruders” were, while several teams fled outdoors to safety. The group returned to the auditorium for a review and Sheriff Abdalla said the scenario went well, plus he commended the district for always making safety a top priority.
“Edison has been very proactive for years with protecting the schools. [It] has been the most proactive in the county, without a doubt.”
He said sheriff’s officials also hoped to visit schools to speak and read to kids, plus he offered reading materials to teachers. Following more talks, he reiterated the importance of active response.
“Whether it’s run, lockdown or fight, we want you to do something.”
Meanwhile, Beattie said the next professional development session will include a Stop the Bleed training on Nov. 2 to instruct on wound treatment.