Students and staff in Tahlequah Public Schools are taking a more proactive method when dealing with an intruder on site.
ALICE - Alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate – is the safety program being implemented into TPS now.
Before classes began in August, employees at TPS received the ALICE training.
TPS School Resource Officers were busy at Tahlequah Middle School Wednesday morning training classes on the proper procedures.
“Each teacher came up with two plans for his room if an intruder were to be in the building,” said Brian Stanglin, TMS SRO.
Stanglin said the first plan deals with the intruder at the other end of the building from the classroom and the second one involves the intruder in the classroom.
“This program empowers the kids and staff, to make decisions if there is an intruder on campus” said Stanglin. “ALICE is based on the premise that information, authorization and proactive training are the keys to surviving an active shooter.”
TMS is the first school where SROs are conducting individual classroom training. Stanglin completed training all summer to be able to implement this into the district.
“Tahlequah has never had a shooting on any site with an SRO,” said Stanglin.
He said the reason citizen preparation in proactive response is necessary because of the number of mass shootings over the past 25 years.
“Twenty-five years of mass shooting events have yielded a national average for the response time of law enforcement to an active killer scene as five to six minutes,” said Stanglin.
Chris Smith, TPS SRO, said with ALICE training, students are taught to use what is at hand, like textbooks, to throw at the shooter if he enters the classroom.
“AT TMS, the intercom or radio will alert people what the situation is - like active shooter in building or in the area,” said Smith.
Kristy Ward’s seventh-grade science class was first on the list for the morning training.
Ward reminded her students the procedures to follow if the intruder was in the building or the area.
“If the windows do not open in a real situation, you will break them,” said Ward. “Run outside or go jump from the windows.”
David Bookout, assistant principal at TMS said the school has two rally points where students would go if there were an intruder on campus.
Ward told students if this were a real situation, to grab whatever was near to throw at the intruder.
Marcus Sams, TPS SRO, served as the active shooter in the drills.
He provided students with tennis balls to throw and he was equipped with a soft dart toy gun.
When Stanglin said “intruder in the building” students in Ward’s class immediately took action. Lights were turned off, the projector was turned off, the curtains on the windows were drawn and students readied for the intruder.
“The first drill went fine, but several students froze and forgot to throw the balls and too many people went to the windows,” said Stanglin. “The second drill was much better and students did a great job of exiting the building. Two students were hit by the soft darts.”
He said in reality the second drill was good. Two hits are bad, but before ALICE, entire groups were killed or injured because they did nothing except lie down in a classroom.
Stanglin said the training continues through Friday, if needed, at TMS.
“ALICE is the evolution of lockdown drills,” said Stanglin. “It gives people more of a chance.”