School develops active shooter response plan

OSAGE CITY—USD 420 brought its staff members into a special assembly Aug. 14 to discuss the school’s current policy for dealing with school shootings.

USD 420 Superintendent Troy Hutton introduced Osage City Police Officer Rob Dunham, who has trained in a program called A.L.I.C.E., which focuses on making the best decisions for students and staff to survive a deadly scenario.

“This isn’t what we want to do with our in-service, but unfortunately, with today’s world, we have to,” Dunham said.

Dunham asked the faculty about fire drills, which the school conducts monthly, and tornado drills, which are run once every three months. He said the two have combined for one death in Kansas in the last 50 years.

He said that nationwide, 366 people were killed during school since 1966.

“That’s scary,” Dunham said. “Probably not what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to know. That’s the reality of it. You are more apt to be killed by a gunman than a tornado or fire while you’re at school.”

Dunham noted the schools spend far less time practicing for that scenario.

“We’re working on correcting that,” Dunham said. “I don’t just live here and work here. My kids go to school here. I’m vested in the community.”

The teachers started with demonstrations of breaking a shooter’s focus, with two teachers playing catch, and how something as simple as a foam ball can distract a gunman long enough to allow you, or others, to escape.

“It’s your decision if you want to run, it’s your decision if you want to hide, it’s your decision if you want to counteract,” Duhman said. “Attacking the gunman is absolutely the last thing you need to do. The only reason you need to do that is because you can’t get out.”

That demonstration led into a more direct demonstration, where teachers used airsoft weapons and participated in a school shooting scenario, with staff participating as shooters and victims.

In the first scenario, teachers locked down in the classroom and waited for the shooter to enter the classroom.

“I want you to walk in there and shoot everybody,” Dunham told teacher Lynn Tice, who played the part of the first shooter.

Tice, who said she had no shooting experience, entered the room, picking off victims as they cowered behind desks. The airsoft bullets left welts, and no person in the classroom was spared.

“This is the current policy,” Dunham said. “How many of you believe in it now?”

In a second scenario, the classroom full of victims could choose to hide or run. Many of the staff members survived the demonstration, despite the shooter being played by a more experienced staff member.

In the third scenario, staff members were allowed to fight back. Lisa Jones, a custodian for the district, grabbed the gunman.

“Lisa got killed tangling with the gunman,” Dunham said. “She got killed, but others got away. That’s a prime example, if you’re going to go, go hard, go all the way. Whatever your decision is, full speed ahead. Do not hesitate. When you hesitate, and you’re unsure of your decision, something bad is going to happen.”

The A.L.I.C.E. program stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, though not in that order. The idea is to weigh options and available information so staff members can make informed decisions on whether to hide, escape or fight back.

Dunham said lockdowns have their place, and that students and staff would not want to leave the building if an incident were occurring outside. That changes when the threat enters the building.

“A locked door is nothing more than a time barrier,” Dunham said. “It may give you a couple seconds to plan your next move.

“If you can get out, get out,” he said. “Think of it like a fire drill. If you’re school is on fire, are you going to stay in the school?”

He encouraged staff to plan for all scenarios, consider items in the room that could be used to reinforce doors, as well as for defense.

“How about weapons?” Dunham said. “What do you have in the classroom you can use as a weapon, if you have to?”

Dunham’s goal was to sell the staff on the idea of a more advanced active shooter response program. He asked those who participated in the scenario if it gave validation to the program.

“Maybe Rob knows what he’s talking about,” Dunham said.

Teacher Amy Linton asked why the policy hasn’t already been adopted by the board.

“Our present policy doesn’t have an active shooter drill in it,” Hutton said. “If it makes the staff feel better, we can add it to the agenda.”

Hutton said the next step would be to send letters to parents, and start educating children. Dunham noted those programs would be tailored by age groups.

“This does not replace what you currently have,” Dunham noted. “This adds to what you already use.”

The Osage County Herald-Chronicle

The official newspaper of Osage County; the cities of Burlingame, Carbondale, Lyndon, Melvern, Olivet, Osage City, Overbrook, Quenemo and Scranton; Burlingame USD 454, Lyndon USD 421, Marais des Cygnes Valley USD 456, Osage City USD 420 and Santa Fe Trail USD 434.

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