The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

February 27, 2013

Training for the unthinkable: No blanket policy exists for responding to school shootings

OTTUMWA — Local law enforcement will band together with area school districts this spring to prepare for something they pray never happens here: a school shooting.

Wapello County Emergency Management has coordinated an “active shooter” response course for school administration this May, funded by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant.

The course will cover the ALICE system: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

Josh Stevens, emergency management coordinator, said so far, administrators from three school districts in Wapello County (Ottumwa, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Cardinal) are attending, as well as some districts from outside the county.

“It’s an opportunity for them to learn what the ALICE program is and whether it’s something they would or could implement in their schools in some fashion, either partially or wholly,” he said.

Stevens, along with an Ottumwa police officer and a Wapello County Sheriff’s deputy, attended an ALICE training program in Marshall County last summer.

“ALICE allows you to consider other options for the specific situation you might be in,” Stevens said. “Administrators from each facility or school district then decide how they want to implement it and what age groups they’ll do different things with to make it a better fit for their school district.”

The older a person is, the more they’re likely to understand how to take direction in a stressful situation, Stevens said, which is why the plan can change depending on the age of the student.

“Building administrators have a better pulse than somebody from outside as far as what’s best for students depending on their age group,” he said.

ALICE is not a blanket policy, he said. Local discussions must be held between faculty and administration.

The training will also be the perfect time to network between law enforcement, emergency services and schools, “so everyone is on the same page and can respond effectively to the situation.”

Sometimes, lockdown is the best option. But in addition to lockdown, ALICE provides other options that teaches administrators how to respond.

“Again, that ‘one size fits all’ solution to the problem doesn’t work,” he said. “What works for one building may not work for another, not only in schools but in businesses. Depending on the layout of the facility, lockdown may be the only option.”

“One size fits all” also does not apply to each of Ottumwa’s schools, said Ottumwa Superintendent Davis Eidahl.

Right now, Ottumwa’s response to active shooters depends on the building due to each building’s varied design and layout.

“A couple are open pod type buildings and in those, we evacuate,” he said. “In others, it would be lockdown. This situation is reviewed with faculty just like every other situation: fire, tornado.”

While some buildings do conduct physical drills for tornados or fires, elementary schools are less apt to do a lot of drilling “because we don’t want to frighten the children.

“But our administration does take teachers and employees through it so they can lead students through if they’re ever faced with such a scenario,” he said.

Local law enforcement trains for active shooter situations when they are able, Stevens said, which includes Ottumwa’s three school resource officers (two at the high school and one at the middle school).

Eidahl said his district has become more familiar with ALICE since some employees have attended training in the past couple years.

“We have altered our procedures from three to four years ago as a result of this training,” he said. “We’ll be sending representatives from the elementary, middle and high schools for more of that training [in May].”

Those representatives will then report back with the district and make sure policy is research-based and aligned with what trainers have discovered over the last 10 to 15 years.

“One of the most valuable parts of ALICE training is the discussion it sparks between school administrators and private businesses and law enforcement,” Stevens said. “Everyone sees the situation through their own circumstances, so this allows people to have an open discussion during training and get other people’s viewpoints. It’s eye-opening.”

ALICE teaches proactive, instead of passive, strategies, such as examining the physical security of a building and getting to know its weak points and layout.

During the course, attendees will also watch video examples from other active shootings, as well as interviews of staff and students afterward, which can help “guide our future response,” Stevens said.

“I think the purpose of this training is definitely to get the schools, private entities and law enforcement on the same page and make sure their plans are up-to-date,” he said. “ALICE is another tool in the toolbox to respond. The more options you have, the better off you are.”

The worst case scenario is the community thinking “it won’t happen here” and then not being prepared.

“... we do have a plan right now, but this will help to improve upon it and open the lines of communication,” Stevens said.

Response Options’ “Active Shooter Response Instructor Course”

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 16-17

Indian Hills Community College Rural Health Education Center Room 111

Pre-registration required

To register, contact Andrew James at ajames@storycounty.com or 515-382-7229. Last day to pre-register is May 2.

Include name, agency, business address, business phone number and individual email address.

Tuition is free; training materials included.

The course has a limit of 35. Exceptions cannot be made after that point, said Josh Stevens, since the class becomes too large to be effective.

1
Text Only
Wapello County
  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0617 OTT Wapello Co Fair color photo -L -M Come one, come all to the Wapello County Fair

    ELDON — The Wapello County Fair is just around the corner, kicking off with entries being welcomed at Wapello Hall and the Iowa Agricultural Hall from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, entries for competition will be received from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Siegel, Rubel face off in forum OTTUMWA — For Steve Siegel, a political campaign is nothing new. For Tom Rubel, being the candidate is a first. Now they want the same job. Siegel and Rubel are seeking the Democratic nomination for SD 41, the Iowa Senate district which includes Ottu

    May 29, 2014

  • 0530 OTT Oak tatters picture color Oak leaves left in tatters

    OTTUMWA — Trees throughout Iowa have been terrorized by the likes of Emerald Ash Borer and other dangers in the past months and now oak trees throughout Iowa are in a little bit of more trouble because of a disease called oak tatters. Thankfully, tho

    May 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Help fight hunger OTTUMWA — The groups began with a question: How to better help Wapello County residents who don't have enough decent food. Next week, they'll decide if they've found any answers. The food security project, Growing Wapello Together, had small groups m

    May 28, 2014

  • Attempted murder trial set for July KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren County man accused of attempted murder could head to trial in a remarkably short time. Dimitrious Royal has a trial date of July 15. If that date is when the trial actually begins, it would take place just more than 11 weeks

    May 28, 2014

  • Agency aces assessment OTTUMWA — A local agency had a lot riding on the outcome of an independent review. They nailed it. "The credential we just received was to show we are a quality [organization]," said Bryan Dunn, executive director of Sieda Community Action. "It's som

    May 27, 2014

  • County backs bike rides OTTUMWA — Bike rides in Wapello County just received a personal push of goodwill from Wapello County Board of Supervisors. Tuesday, supervisors signed a resolution of support for three area bike rides to be conducted in June. The rides include the H

    May 27, 2014

  • 0527 OTT EMS week color photo -L -M ORHC celebrates EMS Week OTTUMWA — During National EMS week, May 18-24, Ottumwa Regional Health Center (ORHC) celebrated its staff, the community EMS providers and the importance of being prepared in emergency situations through education. The ambulance service at ORHC, also

    May 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Moving into the future OTTUMWA — Wapello County Supervisor Greg Kenning joked after the board approved upgrading the county’s servers Tuesday. “You can put away your quills.” Jokes asides, Wapello County will now have more opportunity to maximize its server resources. The

    May 20, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National