Active shooter responses; Lambert’s lockdown


Students demonstrating the lockdown procedure at Lambert.

School shootings have been a recent issue since the start of a zero tolerance to weapons, drugs, and even attitudes that imply terrible actions to come. This zero tolerance policy started with Columbine, an infamous high school shooting in 1999; this event truly opened up the eyes of the public, and created new policies for many schools across the nation. Although these new rules and drills don’t achieve 100 percent safety, they do give a sense of security and some knowledge on what to do if a dire situation were to occur. However, not every school follows the same protocol.

In the Midwestern area, the schools carry out a program called Alice. The schools go through training and simulations to be more prepared. Alice is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. Alert is when you first realize you are in danger, and it includes overcoming denial, recognizing the threat, and receiving information from others. The sooner you understand the situation the sooner you can take action. Lockdown can be a good option if done correctly. Alice training teaches trainees to barricade all entry points of the room, but more importantly what to do while waiting in the room. Using that time to prepare for different situations. They also explain how and when to communicate with the police. The purpose of the next word, inform, is to communicate any new information in as real time as possible. Ongoing real time information is key to making desicions that could save lives. It is encouraged to use video surveillance, frequent 911 calls, and PA announcments to the best of its ability. Counter is one of the best options if evacuation and a lockdown fails. Counter does not mean fighting. Alice does not believe confronting the shooter is the best method of defense. Instead, counter means to create distraction and distance from the shooter, making it harder for them to aim and shoot. Creating a loud environment with a lot of movement can reduce the shooter’s ability. Evacuation is the best method of surviving a shooting, as moving to a safe place can take anyone out of harm and prevent coming into contact with the shooter.

The program, Alice, is becoming more popular throughout the nation. They are training new schools, organizations, and businesses everyday, and have over 1 million individuals trained to respond in situations like these. Alice is a firm believer in evacuation first. Evacuating the building and going to a safe spot is the best way to avoid the shooter and any danger standing in the way. This is where informing comes in. If you are able to send and receive information about where the shooter is you can make a decision to exit the building. Alice advises against lockdowns because it creates “identifiable targets.” Sitting on the side of a room makes the shooter’s mission far more easier. Most shooters are aware of the lockdown drill, and know that the rooms are locked with the lights turned off. More importantly, they know that precious lives are huddled in the corner.

As for protocol here in Forsyth, the only information available is on the Forsyth county website under the safety and discipline section. They have lockdown procedures for things such as medical and weather emergencies. The have one section for active shooter lockdowns. This section only offers a video created in 2014. The video opens up with the shooter entering the school and firing his gun. The kids in the hallways that have been “shot,” fall to the ground dead or injured. The first police officer doesn’t enter the building until 1 minute and 29 seconds into the video. Next, the officers locate the gunman and “eliminate the threat.” The officers then proceed to clear the school and evacuate the students and teachers. Fire and EMS personnel arrive on the scene to treat the wounded. The video then ends with worried parents coming to the scene frantically looking for their children. The video fails to inform students of Forsyth county what to do, and how to stay safe. The video doesn’t describe what a lockdown procedure is and how to safely evacuate the building.

The lockdown drill used at Lambert is a simple drill. First, it’s announced that the drill is commencing. The students move to the side of the room and sit quietly while the teacher locks the door and shuts the lights off. Administration goes through the entire school checking the doors to make sure they are completely locked. Is this drill really preparing the students? Students are trained to sit and wait. Sit and wait for what? The shooter. Evacuation is a very crucial survival plan needed in these situations. Lambert has never taught the students how to evacuate properly. They have also never taught students to properly barricade the rooms. After recent school shootings it is time for a change. A change in the safety protocol. The students are the future, and what a shame it would be for some bright futures to end early.