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As a school employee, I recently took part in a training session for ALICE—a new program being introduced across the nation for dealing with armed intruders. ALICE stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (not necessarily in that order).

If you have children in a school system, you are possibly aware of this program. If not, inquire about it at their school. Sheriff and Police departments in many communities are either in training or are in the process of working with the schools. The old system of lock-downs wherein everyone huddles in corners or under desks and tables has proven a tragic failure in the face of high-powered, repetitive-shot weapons and intent-on-destruction perpetrators.

Schools are enhancing their surveillance to cover parking lots, recreation areas, and all outside areas of the building/s and heightening the security of entry ways. Many schools have metal detectors through which all must pass. Some even hire armed guards. Teachers are trained to assess the best options with their students in case of attack: barricades; evacuating the building if possible, sending students to designated safe havens in the community; countering or rushing the perpetrator in an effort to distract and disable.

In this locale, all city agencies: police, highway, parks department, and ambulance services are instantly notified of an ALICE alert. Traffic is stopped for a two-mile radius. Only the authorities can pass through. Meeting places for parents are already established.


It’s terrible to think about such things happening to your child or in your school (or even your church), but even as leaders try to prepare safe ways of dealing with fires or tornados, they need to deal with the unthinkable aspect of intruders.

As parents are being introduced to safety programs in the schools it seems, to me, an opportune time for them to reinforce the understanding of safety in the home. Fire and tornado safety is vital. Review your safety rules and exit plans.

Another increased threat, especially in cities, is forced home-entries, shootings and worse. I have to remind myself: “Don’t open the door unless I know who is there.” What happens if someone does gain entry? What of others in the home? How to warn them to take evasive or protective action? I’ve thought about “UNKLE ALICE!” The invaders won’t know what you are talking about, but your family will. It means putting safety principles into effect at home—teaching children to barricade doors and escape through ground-floor windows. Before a crisis is when to teach preparedness. Help older children organize younger ones to move quietly and quickly both in the house and out, going directly to a pre-established safe-haven where police can be notified. (UNKLE—U Never Know: Leave Everything.)

ALICE won’t save every life, but it has in a short while of usage saved many. Awareness and preparedness are key factors—as is the awareness of a Power far greater than one’s own who is able to give wisdom and protection.

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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