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|4/24/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Supervisors approve policy, training for active shooter scenario|
By Jeremy Huss
Clinton County employees will be trained in May on the ALICE response protocol in the event of an active shooter at a county-run building after the Clinton County Board of Supervisors approved the adoption of an active shooter policy April 22.
ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate and is designed to give employees options to respond in a shooting scenario to increase their chances of survival.
The ALICE program has been adopted at several area school districts, and interest in the training has increased substantially since the elementary school shooting last December in Newtown, Conn.
ALICE differs from other security plans in that it emphasizes ways to escape from a threatening situation, including by countering an attacker directly, instead of asking employees to sit tight and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
Auditor Eric Van Lancker told the supervisors the new active shooter policy was developed by chief deputy Kevin Cain, emergency management coordinator Chance Kness, justice commission coordinator Brian McKenrick and himself after the four attended an ALICE training program last month in Goose Lake.
Three other employees attended a second training, leaving the county with seven staff members trained in ALICE, he noted.
The active shooter policy puts in writing the material presented in the ALICE program, Van Lancker said.
"It basically is an outline of the ALICE concept on how to deal with an active shooter," he stated.
Kness said the policy isn't like the county's other facility security policies because it deals with specific options for an individual to respond to a shooter.
"It's called an active shooter policy, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a shooter. It could be anyone who has a threatening weapon," Van Lancker said.
Supervisor Brian Schmidt asked about a component of the policy instructing staff to use a PA system to announce what is happening and where in plain, clear language.
"Once you go through the training, you'll see it's important we put out as much information as we can," Van Lancker said.
He also pointed out the current PA system is phone-based and can't reach all offices in the administration building without making multiple calls. He said he will be coming to the supervisors to seek funding to install a full PA system in the near future.
Kness said Schmidt's question is a common one because people are concerned such announcements could anger a threatening subject.
"The truth of the matter is, they're already here to kill people. How much angrier are they going to get?" Kness said.
The announcements don't add to the danger employees face but may provide essential information to help them avoid harm or escape from the area, he said.
"This policy doesn't necessarily save every life, but if this kind of incident happens, we need to have a plan where we keep the casualties to a minimum," Van Lancker said.
Kness said the policy is comprehensive and flexible so it can be applied to all county facilities.
Schmidt then asked about putting the policy document on the county website where other policies are listed.
"It doesn't matter who sees it. In fact, we want people to know we're ready," Kness said.
While it's important to keep some aspects of security procedures confidential, Kness said the county wants people to know they have plans in place to respond because it could reduce the chances of a shooter targeting the county's facilities.
Van Lancker noted the fact other schools and cities are using the ALICE system creates consistency for law enforcement who would respond if an incident occurs.
Discussion turned to specific aspects of evacuation procedures, with Van Lancker explaining employees leaving the building should leave the area on foot and not use their vehicles.
Employees going to their cars could create a traffic jam at the same time emergency responders are trying to reach the facility, he said.
Employee "check-in centers" have been established at the courthouse and the administration building, depending on where the incident occurs.
Employees at other county facilities should report to the nearest county building or any other government facility.
The courthouse and administration building were chosen because they are buildings the county controls, Van Lancker noted.
"You don't necessarily have to go there, but you need to check in. Part of the rescue is we need to know if someone has been left behind," he said.
It may also be beneficial following an incident to gather support from other county employees, he said.
County treasurer Rhonda McIntyre asked about differences in response depending on the motive of an intruder, such as during a robbery.
Kness said the policy deals with someone who has an intent to harm and isn't specifically concerned with a robbery.
"We were taught that a gun was for a robbery," Kness said, but shooting incidents elsewhere have show that isn't necessarily the case.
"Anyone who produces a weapon, we need to assume they intend to harm us. We can't just assume when someone displays a weapon, they just want the money and won't harm us," Kness said.
If handing over a cash box will prompt a person with a gun to leave, do it, Van Lancker said, but the policy is about making choices in a threatening situation.
"We've been taught so long to submit to the threat, and that's gotten hundreds of people killed," he said.
The supervisors approved the policy, and discussion moved to training of county staff.
"The training really solidifies what we're talking about and how to increase your survivability in this instance," Van Lancker said.
Training involves a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by an hour of simulation that puts employees in various scenarios involving a mock shooter. Scenarios will include use of an air soft gun, protective masks and a simulated gunshot noise.
It was noted the administration building and parking lot will have to be closed to the public during the scenario portion of the training so the simulation isn't interrupted.
Lengthy discussion was held on whether to conduct the training over a single day or multiple days, with the board ultimately voting in favor of an option to give the lecture/PowerPoint portion of the presentation over several days and to close the building one afternoon to run the scenario portion.
Employee training tentatively was scheduled for the week of May 20.