Inside L-S: ALICE protocol offers a chance to survive an intruder situation

“I know we’re all going to die...there’s just three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.”

Those words were spoken by Thomas Burnett Jr. to his wife on September 11, 2001. He and his fellow passengers on Flight 93 became heroes by standing up to the terrorists that had taken over their plane, stopping it from crashing into Washington. It was a small glimmer in a dark day.

Nowadays, we could use more glimmers. The world seems to have become very dangerous very quickly. Weekly we seem to come home, turn on the news, and add another mass murder to our memory. Even as this article was written, police were scrambling after a mass shooting in California. For everyone, the dire questions of how we must live like this, and how we can prevent it, grow daily.

And it was in an attempt to prevent more mass killings that A.L.I.C.E. was created. ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, is a protocol originally devised by Greg Crane, a police officer in Dallas, Texas, whose wife was a teacher. The protocol is meant to make it safer for students and school staff, giving them a greater chance to survive an intruder situation.

Among its most controversial provisions, ALICE permits victims to actually attack an attacker. To most high school students this begs the question: “What, so I just grab a pair of scissors and lunge?” To many, ALICE seems like it’s encouraging a suicide charge.
Dr. Benjamin Feeney, Assistant Principal of L-S High School File Photo

Dr. Benjamin Feeney, assistant principal of L-S High School and the building representative to the safety team, spoke with in an effort to clarify some of ALICE’s components.

“It’s very much a step-by-step protocol,” Feeney explains, citing the main goals as “communicating the situation, and evacuating if possible.”

“Communication is the number one piece of ALICE,” he says.

Counter is the absolute last resort. The main idea is to get everyone out of harm’s way, and only in extreme situations empower others to save themselves.

“It serves as an active measure to take down a shooter,” Feeney says of the Counter provision. “It creates a distraction, a hiccup in the attacker’s plans.”

Essentially, ALICE allows people to be more than just sitting ducks. Feeney didn’t think the measure invites disaster, forcing everyone to be a hero.

“You make that conscious decision,” he clarifies, “knowing that this is reality, knowing this situation is not necessarily going to have a fairytale ending. If you look historically at situations involving gunmen and active shooters, situations in which countermeasures were taken, more lives were saved.”

No one needs to be the hero, but ALICE recognizes that if someone wants to take a chance, to fight for their life, they should. It could help others.

L-S teachers have trained in ALICE protocol.

“We have done drill scenarios,” Feeney says.

Asked if L-S is prepared for a real situation, he pauses, obviously visualizing a scenario in his head, trying to picture what would happen. No one ever wants to think it could happen to them, but in this day and age, preparedness is a requirement.

“I feel like we’ve put our faculty and staff through training to handle a situation that could potentially arise. But we obviously hope we never have to face that situation,” he finally answers, visibly confident in his fellow teachers, administrators, and faculty, but reluctant to imagine any of them in that situation, which is certainly understandable.

No one should fret excessively over that day, should it come, as horrifying as it would be. At L-S we can rest a little easier; ALICE is in place, and our teachers, administrators, and staff know what they are doing.

Editor's Note: This is the fifth and final installment of our November Inside L-S series, "Safety and Security". To read the remainder of the series, please visit our Inside L-S page.

--Justin Burkett, Managing Editor

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