Imagine you are sitting in class and you start to hear gun shots coming from down the hall. Do you even know what strategy has the best chance of ensuring your survival? Would you lock the door, turn the lights off and hide and pray that the shooter doesn’t enter your classroom? Or, would you run as fast as you can out of the building to get help? Participating in A.L.I.C.E. (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) training not only gives you the resources you need to increase your chance of survival, but can also help you save lives. I know this because I have had A.L.I.C.E. training this summer as an employee of Sykes Student Union.
Sadly, mass shootings have been normalized; as a result, students need to be properly taught how to handle an active shooter situation so they have the best chance at survival. Methods taught previously, such as hiding in the classroom, no longer suffice to handle this type of situation. A.L.I.C.E. is a new program that is being taught in schools around the country. This training was created by the Department of Homeland Security. During the training, you learn five different ways that you can handle an active shooting situation. According to the A.L.I.C.E. training website, over 1 million people have been trained using this method, from children in K-12 programs to members of religious institutions. As of July, there have been 22 school shootings in the United States in 2019 alone. Over 187,000 people have experienced a school shooting since the incident at Columbine High School in 1999. That is more than the student population of West Chester University, Temple University, Widener University and the University of Delaware combined.
Many people in the United States think that their lives will not be affected by mass shootings. With the amount of mass shootings on the rise, not just in schools but everywhere in the United States, any scenario is possible. So, what needs to be done? In a perfect world, the answer lies in firearm restrictions, which will hopefully be put into effect soon. But for now, I believe participation in A.L.I.C.E. training is necessary to ensure public safety, as it replaces the ineffective safety measures we were once taught with accurate means of protection. During the in-person training that I underwent, the instructor initially made you hide in the room and wait, defying A.L.I.C.E. techniques. We knew that someone was going to come into the room, but we did not know when, and everyone’s anxiety heightened because we simply had to wait like sitting ducks. As a result of this inaction, almost everyone in the room was hit, and would have died or been seriously injured if this was a real event. After that, we were able to implement A.L.I.C.E. and the hit rate of students went down drastically. Students who have been given these life-saving tools will be able to utilize them forever, and if they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation, they will be prepared to help themselves and others.
Kaylin Mora is a third-year media and culture major minoring in theatre. KM906493@wcupa.edu