GRAETTINGER - The message to students at the Graettinger-Terril Middle and High School last Wednesday was sobering. “If an active shooter were to come into your school, they are trying to kill you. They have no other goal other than to kill as many of you as they can. What we want to do with this training is give you the skills to put in your toolbox to give you the best chance of being a survivor, and that’s reality.” With those words, Officer Nate Dunlavy of the Estherville Police Department had the attention of students and staff alike for a session in ALICE - Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate training. The ALICE?training was part of a joint effort by Iowa Lakes Community College as well as Palo Alto County Emergency Management on how to react to a simulated live shooter event in a school setting. “I truly wish we didn’t have to talk about this subject, but we have to be prepared,”?Dunlavy, the School Resource Officer for the Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District explained. “But the episodes of mass shootings are taking place in schools, in malls, in the workplace, and we hope we can teach you skills you never have to use.” According to Dunlavy, in the past, a lockdown was the first response for such an incident, sheltering in place. However, such action did little to protect or deter tragedies such as Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 or Sandy Hook Elementary in 2013. In the presentation, Dunlavy explained that ALICE involves five parts: A-Alert, using plain English to describe the threat, and anyone can make the alert; L - Lockdown, and include training in barricading a door from intruders; I - Inform, using technology such as texts, snapchat or calls to give information to others, like a play-by-play of what they are seeing or hearing; C - Counter, interrupt a shooter in any way, throwing objects at the shooter, anything to interrupt their skill set (ability to shoot accurately) or a group rush of a shooter, with individuals grabbing arms and legs of the shooter; E - Evacuate, get away from the danger if at all possible. “You are the first responders in an incident - students and teachers. If you offer no resistance, it will not be good,” Dunlavy noted. “In a training at Estherville, we had 30 people in a room who did nothing, did not resist, and in 30 seconds, we had 30 “shot” in 30 seconds. The next time we tried the training, the teachers resisted the shooter and just eight people were shot in those same 30 seconds. But, even with all this, there are no guarantees of survival, but it can increase the chances of survivability. If you huddle and sit, you will get shot.” Dunlavy pointed out that shooters go after the helpless people who can’t defend themselves. “That’s why you have to be ready to defend yourself. Take back control of a situation if you have to.” Following Dunlavy’s presentations, a live drill was conducted on Wednesday afternoon, featuring two armed intruders who entered the building. An announcement calling for a lockdown due to intruders was made immediately and classroom doors were locked and lights shut off as actual gunshots filled the hallways, provided by Dunlavy, to simulate the actual shooters, who used Nerf® dart guns as weapons. Several students in the band room participated in the drill as shooting victims, and the first two sheriff’s deputies to arrive in the school were both ‘gunned’ down as they entered the building. More law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions responded to the drill along with Emergency Medical personnel and firefighters. The two gunmen continued to roam the school for nearly 10 minutes before one was neutralized by officers, but two additional officers were ‘shot’ before a tactical team from southern Minnesota was able to track the final gunman and end the situation some 10 minutes later. The entire school was searched by the tactical team before the drill was concluded to assure no other intruders were still lurking in the building. At the conclusion of the drill, the responders held a debriefing in the school library, discussing what went right and what could be done differently in a future event. “For this being the first such drill in Palo Alto County, I think it went pretty well,” noted Palo Alto County Emergency Management Director Mark Hunefeld. “We had excellent participation and cooperation from all the law enforcement agencies and first responders, along with the students and the district staff. We’ll learn from this and hopefully never have to put what we learned to actual use.” “It was nervewracking, that’s for sure,”?agreed GT Principal Jeremy Simington. “You know it’s just a drill, but when you hear the gunshots and see the officers in your hallways with weapons drawn, it becomes very real. Our students did a wonderful job and our community was very supportive of this project.”

 
 

AA Meeting April 27, 2017

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