Canfield schools' administration undergoes new active shooter training

By Josh Stipanovich


Canfield schools administrative team participated in a new active-shooter training protocol, ALICE, at the high school here.

The training for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate came three days after the Ohio attorney general's office published a document explaining new minimum-standard recommendations for dealing with active shooters.

Several members of the district’s administration were scheduled to take part in several training scenarios today to wrap up the two-day training session.

“The world changed for Ohio, Friday,” said Lt. Joe Hendry, an adjunct instructor for the ALICE training institute. "Actually, interestingly, [the document] almost follows the ALICE guide-lines exactly."

ALICE is a program that was developed for active- shooter response, said Hendry, who led Monday's class. He added there are three premises on which to respond — evacuation, lock down, and barricading and using countermeasures for people who are in direct contact with an active shooter.

That change will come next academic year in Canfield, said Alex G. Geordan, Canfield superintendent. Geordan, who went through the training in Ashtabula County, attended Monday's class and said he and the district have been aware of the state’s new minimum recommendations. The district established a crisis-response team last fall when Geordan was hired that includes community members, safety and law enforcement, local, state and county emergency personnel.

The training courses are one of the final steps in preparing the entire district for the change. Administration will train faculty and staff in August, and it will be practiced several times throughout next academic year, Geordan said.

“It's needed. It’s a needed change,” Geordan said.

The former procedure, known as lock down, is what most schools implemented more than 20 years ago and some still use today.

It revolves around the idea that — if an active shooter was inside a school — faculty, staff and students are to lie on the ground and stay put until the threat was resolved.

Hendry said that idea doesn’t work and actually gives the shooter what he or she wants — a lot of people locked in a building in several compact spaces.

“It [lock down] was never really intended or developed for civilians or active shooter. It came out of the American prison system,” Hendry said.

“Hopefully, we can get the state of Ohio switched over a little bit and make our students and our staff and faculty and our facilities a lot safer.”

Hendry said studies show that using lock downs as a stand-alone procedure for active shooters was ineffective.

“The casualty rates, we’re discovering, somewhere hovering in or around the 75th percentile for 20 seconds people shot,” Hendry said.

“Using ALICE’s response, the incident’s over probably in less than 10 seconds, and we have extremely lower casualty rates — about 17 percent — in a classroom.”

One of the new state minimum standards, according to the document published by the Ohio attorney general’s office, is to do whatever is necessary to subdue and confuse an active shooter once he or she enters a classroom, including throwing books, computers, phones or bookbags and moving about the room to decrease the shooter’s accuracy.

John Tomaino, a Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned to Western Reserve School District, said he and the district are also aware of the changes the state is recommending.

Tomaino works with the district in writing lock down procedures, evacuation and active-shooter concerns. He said his department did a similar training over spring break this year.

“All the schools need to do a little more than just locking down,” Tomaino said. “I think [the state’s new recommendations] are going to force a lot of schools to make changes that they weren't real sure about.”

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