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Being prepared

By Staff | Sep 26, 2016

The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.”

That’s an adage that works for other areas of life as well.

A group of about 20 came to Lunch & Learn Wednesday. Officer Nate Dunlavy, who trained the entire Estherville Lincoln Central School District personnel on ALICE last year, provided statistics and advice for local professionals, business people and interested citizens.

Dunlavy said the Estherville Police Department is available to come to a business for a custom assessment. “We can tell you, ‘this is secure,’ or ‘this is not secure,’ when it comes to your workplace,” Dunlavy said.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. The steps are not necessarily sequential, and different situations call for different emphases on the steps.

Dunlavy said, “The first thing to know when it comes to alerting a school or workplace about a shooter is that we want to stay away from codes.”

Dunlavy advised the use of plain language such as, “active shooter near the west entrance,” so that not only employees, but visitors and customers understand the situation.

Lockdown is a defense that is outdated unless the shooter is right outside the room you are in, Dunlavy said.

It was the method for a long time, Dunlavy said. Examples from Columbine High School in Colorado to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut showed students and faculty following directions to the letter of hiding under desks, locking classrooms, and otherwise trying to keep the shooters away.

“Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get to many people quickly if they stay in place,” Dunlavy said. “It’s unfortunate we have to have training like this.”

Dunlavy shared his experience at ELC high school and middle school. “Your kids have amazing teachers. Many of them who were in the scenarios came to the students’ aid.”

Dunlavy described a phenomenon called “auditory exclusion,” a form of temporary loss of hearing occurring in traumatic situations.

Inform is the step that occurs when it is safe to call authorities. “Get safe first, then call 9-1-1,” Dunlavy said.

While lockdown is generally not the preferred response, neither is countering unless it comes to that, Dunlavy said. “Do not engage,” Dunlavy said, “but if they are coming through the door, coming to where you are, distract them, throw things.

Compared with lockdown, which had 25 people in the simulation shot in 30 seconds, with the person playing the shooter an inexperienced gun handler who was actually uncomfortable with weapons, countering reduced the casualties to eight people shot, two fatally, in the high school simulation.

The training includes students in a classroom.

The preferred action is also the last in the acronym: Evacuate. “If you can get yourself out, get out,” Dunlavy said.

Dunlavy said in last school year’s simulation, “The high school kids were terrific, and took the training very seriously. Eighty percent of the kids were out in 30 seconds.” The high school building is set up very well for evacuation,” Dunlavy said.

The middle school building is not as well set up to counter and evacuate from an active shooter, Dunlavy said.

The pro-active method came from law enforcement observations of past active shooter situations. “The people on the scene of the situation have to be the first responders,” Dunlavy said.

“You have to be a warrior,” in a life or death situation, Dunlavy said. When timing a response by police to a simulated call to the school, if the officer had to leave one call to respond to the emergency call, the time to arrive at the Estherville Lincoln Central parking lot was five to six minutes, Dunlavy said.

Dunlavy also talked about the benefits of assigning a school resource officer to Estherville Lincoln Central’s school campus.

“It would increase safety education for the kids. The officer would have responsibility for increasing situational awareness learning for the kids,” Dunlavy said.

“We can’t guarantee 100 percent survival rate [with ALICE or any simulation training] Dunlavy said. “But we can increase survival by 100 percent.”