(Bedford) -- Educators and law enforcement officials in two KMAland counties spent two days learning new approaches to school shooting situations.
Bedford's K-12 building hosted the ALICE training session late last week. ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Based in Medina, Ohio, the ALICE Training Institute assists school districts across the county in preparing for events similar to Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook. Joe Drake is superintendent of the Bedford and Mount Ayr School Districts. Drake tells KMA News administrators from both of his districts were among those taking the ALICE training session Thursday and Friday, along with representatives from the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, Taylor County Emergency Management, and the Iowa State Patrol. Officials from Illinois also participated in the training.
Drake says researched-based data provided during the training session indicated that school officials and students are often the first line of defense when intruders enter school buildings.
"It's difficult for law enforcement to get here," said Drake. "A lot of these shootings happen in three-to-eight minutes. The response time to Columbine was eight minutes. The average response time nationwide to a 911 call is between 14 and 21 minutes. So, the damage is done before law enforcement gets here. As hard as they try, they just can't get here soon enough."
Drake says ALICE also stresses that lockdowns aren't the best way to handle shooting incidents. Based on the ALICE training, he says evaluation and evacuation are better alternatives.
"Our instructor did a good job of explaining to us that, in a fire, don't we evacuate the building?" he said. "Now, if there's a shooter in the building, and there's danger, we need to get out."
The superintendent believes the training was worthwhile.
"They made the point that you can spend $150,000 on a set of locked doors in front," Drake said. "But if somebody wants to get in, they can get in. We just need to be prepared if, God forbid, if something would happen. We would be prepared."
Plans call for offering staff and students in both districts the same training later this spring. More information on the ALICE training institute is available on the company's website.