Teachers simulate A.L.I.C.E. defense against gunman attack

By Emily Khaykin

Security guard Mark Geiger was pinned to the floor last Thursday by a pile of teachers pounding at his head.

Geiger had stormed the room where the teachers were cowering in an exercise teaching them how to fight back to protect themnselves and their students if there were a shooter on campus.

The training in how to use the A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) system was demonstrated to the upper school faculty in the morning and to the middle school faculty in the afternoon.

“The training was first done with the prefects last year. It was our test run,” Crawford said.

Encouraged by the successful simulation with the prefects, Crawford extended the training program to the teachers.

“My goal is to eventually get all the teachers and students at Harvard-Westlake trained,” Crawford stated.

A classroom has been set up directly behind St. Michael’s Church that will be used to train students.

Originally used by Ryan Navi ’09 for the HW exchange, the room has since then been transformed into an exact replica of a regular classroom; complete with desks and school supplies from the lost-and-found. There are also two speakers and cameras in the corners of the room.

“We hope to start training students sometime this year,” Crawford said.

The teachers first attended a presentation in Rugby that taught them different techniques to use against an intruder.

For example, one technique was dubbed the “Swarm Technique,” in which all of the teachers were told to jump the gunman all at once.

After the presentation, the teachers were grouped and separated into different classrooms for a simulated attack.

Each time Geiger would try to enter the classroom, the teachers were instructed to employ a different technique they had learned during the presentation.

The first time, the teachers learned how susceptible they were to attack as they heard the blank shots from outside the classroom and hid under their desks, completely helpless as Geiger easily entered the room.

Geiger fired blanks that emitted the smell of gunfire, then announced to the teachers that they were all dead.

The teachers took a more offensive approach the second time by working together to quickly stack desks up against the doorway.

And as Geiger opened the door, he was startled by the yells and screams of teachers coming at him, in addition to a flurry of thrown tennis balls and orange juice bottles that eventually forced him out of the room.

The third and final time around, as Geiger opened the door, a a group of teachers jumped him, knocking him to the floor.

One teacher even threw a few punches before a security guard ended the simulation.

Even though the faculty was supposed to experiment with different techniques every time, one group of teachers opted to jump the gunman both the second and third times.

The A.L.I.C.E. system is intended to help the students and teachers be active and aggressive against a terrorist attack instead of passively allowing the gunman to take control of campus.

The Prefect Council trained for A.L.I.C.E. in early 2009.