ALICE: Increasing chances of survival

What have we learned from Columbine and all of the shooting events since? That was nearly the first question Salem Police Officer Brad Davis asked when he presented ALICE training for the staff of Family Recovery Center recently at the Salem Golf Club. Could such a thing happen in Columbiana County?

Informing the public through the media can be a double-edged sword. The focus is usually on the shooter, Davis said, less on the victims. The shooter is looking for notoriety, low resistance and body count. Often the media sensationalizes situations to gain ratings. The media helps with notoriety. Everyone else helps with low resistance and body count.

Knowledge is key. Planning is key. The shooter makes his plans. Shouldn’t everyone else also make their plans? How would you react to a violent intruder? Have you thought about it at all? When you go to a public place, a meeting, a church, a school, have you considered the surroundings, how you will respond if an attack occurs there?

Davis advised that the number one cause of death by violent intruder is DENIAL: that it CAN happen, that is IS happening, that there is anything you can DO. Have a plan. “There are no rules” when your school, your office, your church becomes a war zone. “Your office is no longer an office.” He urges that you think outside the box, be alert and aware of your surroundings. Wherever you go, plan an escape route. You may think it may never happen. Others have thought so, and it happened. Always be prepared. Not paranoid. Prepared.

ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) is “a comprehensive training program for increasing the chances of survival through proactive response.” The training empowers students and staff in schools, but is useful to everyone, Davis said.

Alert. Did you hear something that sounded like a gunshot then thought it might be a car backfiring, fireworks, a nail gun. You aren’t sure, though, so you resist calling 9-1-1. Davis urges calling. He said such calls are often regarded by law enforcement as practice for the call that may come in and be real someday.

Lockdown. Lock doors between you and the violent intruder. If you can’t lock the doors, push things in front of the door to slow him down. Don’t hide behind desks and tables. Gunfire will go right through them. Look to hide behind something that might better protect you. What’s around you that you can use as a weapon?

Davis role played a bad guy coming with a gun. Participants in the training threw tennis balls at him to create chaos and confusion so that he had to protect himself from being hit. That would give a group of victims opportunity to rush the shooter, grab limbs and drop their weight to drag him to the floor, disarm him, and hold him down even if he says he gives up. Call 9-1-1 and don’t hang up. That phone line is your link to law enforcement, the outside world that is trying to help alleviate the crisis. They need to know what is happening where you are

Davis advises when you can’t get away, create chaos, loud noises, throw things, move, create barriers, divert attention, whatever you have to do to survive. Once you have made the decision to act, don’t second guess yourself. Commit to the decision and follow through with force, hitting as hard as you can because this is a life and death situation, and your goal is to go back home to your life when this is over.

Intruders plan. You should, too. After a horrifying event someone always says, “I heard something, but I didn’t know what it was.” They didn’t report what they heard because it might turn out to be nothing and they will be embarrassed.

“If you hear or see something that doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts,” Davis said. “It can make a difference.”

For more information about ALICE training, visit www.alicetraining.com. You may also contact Officer Brad Davis, Salem Police Department, bdavis@cityofsalemohio.gov.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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