By Jacquelyn Nelson
HESSTON—Plastic pellets whizzed by and simulated gunfire echoed through the classrooms at Hesston College as area leaders took part in active shooter training.
Armed with an airsoft gun, volunteers took on the role of an active shooter, barging into classrooms and taking aim at trainees.
With mass shootings dominating headlines, Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder began conversations with local leaders and was stunned to find that “not all stakeholders were on the same page.”
Leaders from across Harvey County, representing police, three colleges, nearly every school district, emergency responders and Newton Medical Center took part in the two-day event.
Schroeder coordinated the ALICE training session with funds supplied by the Hesston Community Foundation’s Victim Recovery Fund.
“Bringing in an international group that’s research-based to get everyone on the same page really behooves us,” he said. “It’s based on best practices. We are looking to give people information to reduce casualties and fatalities in an active shooter.”
The ALICE organization – which takes its name from alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate – was founded after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
The organization provides active shooter training for schools, hospitals and businesses.
Those participating in the two-day session would become ALICE trainers, taking their knowledge back to their organizations and training staff members on techniques to keep students and personnel safe.
On Monday afternoon, one of the first simulations run was using the “shelter in place” method implemented at many school districts. Teachers shut classroom doors, turn off lights and instruct students to hide under desks or otherwise take cover.
During the drill, the casualty rate soared as the shooter burst through doors that did not properly lock and shot at participants as they huddled under furniture.
On debriefing, an administrator said she “felt totally helpless. I couldn’t protect anyone.”
Instructor Justin Pan said after the drill, “this is the last time your kids and family will be in that situation.”
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