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Local Institutions Prepare And Train For Active Shooter Situations

Stephen Z

Alert. Lockdown. Inform. Counter. Evacuate.

Combined to form the acronym ALICE, these terms outline a strategy to prepare students, staff and officials for the possibility of an active shooter situation.

Following a string of recent shootings at schools and on college campuses, many districts and universities are looking to implement programs like ALICE. 

Aaron Vanatta is a school police officer in the Quaker Valley School District as well as a national ALICE trainer.  He says the traditional approach of hiding and locking doors hasn’t proven effective and has been teaching faculty and students throughout Pennsylvania what precautionary measures they can apply to a potential shooter situation.

“It’s muscle memory,” Vanatta explained. “It’s common sense, it’s just not common knowledge.”

Vanatta teaches the approach differently depending on the grade and age of the student.  He says for older children, the ALICE methods are more accessible, but for Kindergartners and younger he encourages a “when and then” evacuation technique.

Currently in Pennsylvania, Vanatta estimates that there are well over 200 school districts who have gone through the ALICE training. 

Lieutenant Nick Black with the Point Park University police deals with the challenges of patrolling an urban campus.  The campus is populated by students, but also with the rest of the downtown community.  He says his officers attend active shooter training at least twice a year.

“Your awareness level has to be heightened at all times,” Black said. He added that Point Park was ranked 16th out of over 4,000 colleges and university for campus safety.  Part of that, he attributes to the awareness and consistency of the police force.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer of Pittsburgh Explainer and our Good Question! series. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.
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