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[February 01, 2013]
Lebanon schools to implement enhanced security training
Feb 01, 2013 (Lebanon Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Lebanon School District will soon enhance its emergency-response preparedness training for the safety of students and staff.
Called AliCE, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, information, Counter and Evacuate, the procedure prepares staff and students to read and react to emergencies that include armed intruders, said school safety officer Bob Bowman.
The training will be added to the district's existing Code Red lockdown procedures, which were introduced in 2006 to protect students and staff from all types of emergencies, said Bowman. Each staff member is retrained in the basic technique every year and takes part, with students, in frequent unannounced Code Red drills, he said.
The existing procedure is fairly passive, Bowman said, with teachers locking students inside classrooms, where they remain quiet until given an all-clear by law enforcement.
With ALiCE (the 'i' is lower case to match the international symbol for information, which is a lower case 'i' in a blue circle), staff will be trained to evaluate a situation and be prepared to take a more reactive response when possible.
"Our district already has the A and L down pretty good. We have an excellent lockdown procedure in place," Bowman said. "This isn't replacing any of our programs. It is enhancing what we already have in place to help teachers and students decide what do we do after we're locked down if things don't go according to plan, rather than just sit and hide. " The preferred response would be to safely escape the building, Bowman said. When that is not possible, staff and students should take more proactive and protective steps, such as barricading doors.
"All things that go over and above the old, 'Go in your room, turn out your lights off, hide in the corner and wait for somebody to come get you'," Bowman said. "That is the accepted way to do things now. There is nothing wrong with that, but what if someone is coming to my room specifically How are we going to deal with that We are building on what we have and offering solutions to those (emergencies) that teachers will be empowered to make their own decision if they have to." The program, however, recommends attacking an intruder only as a last, life-saving resort, Bowman said.
"There is a component that suggests that that may have to happen at some point," he said. "But that would be absolutely, positively the last resort. That if I don't do that, or the teacher doesn't do that, they are going to die. You go down fighting, if you will." Equipping staff with firearms is not part of the program, Bowman said, but staff and students should be prepared to use anything at their disposal as a weapon, if necessary.
Another change included in ALiCE is using descriptive language instead of code words in the event of an emergency.
"Talking in plain language instead of codes is the way now," Bowman said. "It used to be Code Red. That means a lockdown. Code Blue, you are having a medical emergency. We are getting away from it. Now it would be 'Lockdown. We have an armed intruder at the library,' because the information helps." The ALiCE protocol was developed about a year ago for business and industry, but it has been modified for schools and campuses, Bowman said.
The recommendation to train district staff in the procedure was made to Superintendent Marianne Bartley by Steve Collins after he learned about ALiCE at a school-safety seminar last year. Collins, like Bowman, is a retired Lebanon police officer and the district's other school safety officer.
The district made the decision to adopt ALiCE in November, prior to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 20 children and eight staffers were killed by a gunman, Bowman said.
"We are always looking for ways to enhance our safety and security procedures," he said.
Last week, Bowman and Collins traveled to Lancaster for 18 hours of intensive training to become certified ALiCE trainers. They were the only representatives from a Lebanon County school, Bowman said.
In the coming weeks, the pair will evaluate every school in the district to develop an ALiCE training plan for it.
Because each is unique, a plan must be developed for every building, Bowman explained.
For example, the strategies available at Northwest Elementary School, which has open classrooms, will be different than the one at the newly renovated Lebanon High School, which is much larger and more compartmentalized, he said.
Once the plans are created, every staff member in each school, including support staff, such as custodians and kitchen workers, will undergo a two-hour ALiCE training session, Bowman said.
The plan is to begin training this year, and have the staff trained in all buildings by the time school begins next year.
Lebanon police Chief Daniel Wright and fire Commissioner Duane Trautman are part of the district's Safe and Healthy Schools Committee and have been informed of the plan to implement ALiCE, Bowman said.
"They are all for it," he said.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 272-5611, ext. 149 Playing it safe ALiCE, a school-safety preparedness program, is not the only security measure the Lebanon School District is taking to enhance the safety of staff and students.
Soon, a software program will be installed at the high school and middle school that provides criminal background and other information about someone trying to enter the school, simply by scanning a driver's license or entering a photo and birth date of that individual, said school safety officer Bob Bowman.
The program operates with a laptop computer, and the plan is to eventually install it at all schools, Bowman said.
___ (c)2013 the Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, Pa.) Visit the Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, Pa.) at www.ldnews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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