The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

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
Ottumwa
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National