November 27, 2018 12:20pm

omehow, shootings in public places keep finding their way into news stories. The most recent occurrences are the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the shooting at the Mercy Hospital in Chicago, and the shooting at a bar in California. Between the three incidents, there were over 20 fatalities. This keeps happening, so what can we do to keep ourselves safer when it comes to high-stress situations like these?

The old protocol for active shooters of lockdown, secure-in-place is no longer an adequate strategy, and this opinion is supported in the Ohio Attorney General’s School Safety Task Force Report (2013). Several agencies participated in recommending new standards for Active Shooter Response, which are included in this report.

The training program I attended earlier this year is called ALICE ( The ALICE Program evolved from the initial practice in 2001 of reviewing how things are done to a much more encompassing set of protocols which include lockdown, evacuating, and countering. (

In 2001 if an intruder/active shooter was in the building, it was protocol for administrators to announce a cryptic code. Teachers would then direct students to a “safe place,” and they would sit in a corner, turn off the lights, and wait for the police to arrive. Unfortunately, we all are aware of the horrific devastation an active shooter can release in the 5 or more minutes it may take police to arrive. What improvements have been made since 2001 to lower the potential for injury and loss of life?

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. While lockdown is still integral to the new recommendations for Active Shooter Response, there is no prescribed order for the five ALICE actions. Active shooter responses are now versatile and adaptable to be relevant to changing conditions in actual active shooter events. ALICE emphasizes empowerment of teachers, administrators, and others to work within guidelines without mandatory rules. A one-size-fits-all active shooter response to prevent injuries or deaths is no longer considered effective.

Prior to Columbine, the thought of any type of attack on a school, day care site, church, library, or office building was virtually unheard of. What can you do if you find yourself in the midst of an active shooter situation? 


Be aware of people and surroundings, specifically unusual persons and/or activity in an otherwise routine setting. Observe the physical building and rooms; take note of the windows (do they open?), number and location of doors for possible exit options from the room and building, and proximity to the fire pull(s).


If it is unsafe to leave the area you are in, what do you do? What you do not do is sit in a corner and wait for the armed person(s) to come in and start shooting.

Be proactive. Try to prevent entry into the room by using whatever items are readily available to secure the room. Barricade the door with tables, chairs, cabinets, anything reasonably possible to slow down an intruder. Consider escaping out the window, even breaking it if necessary.


Clear and calm communication is most effective in protecting building occupants. Plain English, rather than coded messages, is the recommended style of communication. Example:  We have a man with a gun on the first floor at the west end of the building. He is about 5’6”, wearing sunglasses and a green jacket. This message is not only concise and informative, but it empowers occupants to consider feasible options, i.e. if they are on the other end of the building, might they risk getting out now.


Counter tactics include using noise, random screaming, yelling, playing a radio loudly, distracting movement (people stomping or throwing things may break the intruder(s) focus) and distancing, i.e. can you move away from the area. As noted  above in Lockdown, taking measures such as barricading the door, securing the door closer to prevent it from opening, or breaking a window to get out are all counter measures. 


This is a last resort situation that is created by the intruder. ALICE program never advises to aggressively engage a shooter. If you are confronted by a shooter, counter methods such as throwing items, yelling, and swarming to subdue/disable the intruder are all appropriate.

Not all experts and all programs endorse the ALICE methods. Nonetheless, it is no longer acceptable to be passive in situations involving a shooter or potential shooter.

Contact your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent at Richey-Barrett Insurance if you have any questions about your policy.

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