By PF Staff
Mundelein, IL. – The ALICE Training Institute has just announced that Mundelein High School is an official ALICE Certified School. “Your organization has demonstrated a true commitment to safety preparedness,” said a representative of the Institute.
MHS staff are continuing to work through the long training process in order for all adults in the building to be ready for any type of safety issue that could threaten students and/or staff. The District has adopted the ALICE training concept which is a new alternative to the traditional lockdown approach to student safety. The acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Its focus is to have all students and staff be prepared to use a number of different, relevant reactions to having an active shooter in the building.
An example of the new philosophy is that if there is danger at a far end of the building an option would be that it would be safer for students and staff in areas far from the danger to get out of the building [evacuate] rather than stay hunkered down in a classroom.
The official training began this school year when all staff completed an online educational, interactive program so they were prepared for “hands on” training later. On September 28 of this year, the staff was engaged in an afternoon simulation of an intruder in the building. They were placed in a number of different situations where they had to make decisions about what to do. The participants didn’t know ahead of time what type of danger they would encounter.
When placed in a traditional lockdown situation, many of the staff were “shot” [with small rubber balls] trying to hide under desks or behind other furniture. In other scenarios, many were able to escape when they realized there was no danger in their immediate areas. When a large group were in the cafeteria and an armed stranger entered with gun [fake] drawn several of the staff members actually were able to disarm the man and hold him on the ground to wait for help to come.
“This is just the beginning of the training process,” said MHS Head of Security Cathy Schmidt. “There are many more activities ahead this year and next that will also involve students and the Mundelein Police Department,” she explained. Some of those activities will include a parent information night in English/Spanish, students attending a presentation explaining the ALICE process of Run, Hide or Fight, faculty leading discussions and practices in their classrooms and an eventual drill with “actors” and assistance from the Mundelein Police.
“What helped me the most were the training videos, live demonstrations and talking about it,” said Jan Swanston, school nurse. “If we were supposed to experience mass hysteria and minor injuries as compared with the likely deaths that could occur, then the live drills served their purpose,” she said.
During the previous school year, nine members of the MHS staff completed a program to become ALICE trainers and they then became an official part of this ongoing program at MHS. In addition to Schmidt, the other trainers include Officer Steve Balogh, school resource officer at MHS; Meghan Bargar, dean of students; Larry Calhoun, fine and applied arts department chair; Troy Parola, athletic director; Kevin Quinn, director of building and grounds; Chris Sellers, security staff; Rahul Sethna, business faculty and Paul Thatcher, dean of students.
“We’re looking forward to the many ALICE training activities still ahead,” Schmidt said. “It’s a lot of work but well worth it for the safety and protection of our students and staff.”
For more information, contact Cathy Schmidt at 847-949-2200, Extension 1410 or at firstname.lastname@example.org