Active shooter training encourages taking action

Teachers and first responders take part in an active shooter drill at CCRI.

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Lockdown drills have traditionally taught us to be passive and wait for help, but a national company is showing people there are other ways to get out alive.

Eyewitness News got a rare inside look at active shooter training, in which local teachers and first responders learned to take action when there’s a shooter.

Inside a classroom at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Warwick campus, a dozen or so school administrators and police work together, pushing filing cabinets and desks into a doorway. Using whatever is handy – in this case, a belt – they rig the door to keep it from opening.

The shooter in the hallway tries the door, but eventually gives up and moves on.

The mock active shooter drill is part of a new training program called ALICE, or alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate.

For years, lockdowns have taught people to shelter in place and wait for word on what to do next. Instead of waiting, ALICE encourages action, using instincts to increase chances of survival – whether it be keeping the shooter out, or escaping before the shooter has a chance to find you.

“We’re empowering them – these caring, educated, experienced individuals – to make decisions on their own,” said ALICE trainer Chip Yeaton.

While ALICE trainers say “counter”, that should always be a last resort. The Obama administration released guidelines last summer outlining a similar model – run, hide, and fight back.

Sgt. Matthew Ryan will be taking his training back to Woonsocket schools, where even students will have the tools they need to survive.

“We’re going to teach their children how to save themselves, which is of vital importance,” he said. “Everybody needs to be part of the process.”

ALICE Training was created by a SWAT team member in the wake of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

While many in attendance during Friday’s training were from local schools, there were also representatives from local businesses and even a church.

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