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Canfield teachers, officials get armed-intruder training

Published: Sat, October 19, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.




Jenny Beil’s adrenalin kicked into high gear when Mike Weiser entered the classroom with a gun — even though she was prepared for the simulated scenario.

“It’s scary,” said Beil, a 16-year Hilltop Elementary School third-grade teacher. “It’s a major heart race knowing they were going to come in and shoot at you.”

Despite a briefing beforehand, Beil was a bit shaken after Weiser, a Canfield police officer who played an armed intruder, entered her classroom with a pellet gun to simulate a school shooting. At the same time, though, she appreciated the learning experience.

Beil was one of an estimated 50 teachers, custodians and other school officials who attended Friday’s ALICE training session at Hilltop, 400 Hilltop Blvd.

ALICE (alert, lockdown and barricade, inform, countermeasures and evacuate) is a program designed to change how schools, businesses and universities think about and respond to armed intruders.

The techniques were developed shortly after the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo., in which Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 fellow students and a science teacher and injured 21 others before taking their lives.

Also, three other four-hour ALICE sessions took place Friday in the Canfield School District.

Conducting the program at Hilltop was Scott Weamer, Canfield’s assistant police chief.

Weamer noted the first crucial step in dealing with an intruder is to be alert and ensure information flows as quickly and accurately as possible. Such an alert could be gunshots, screams or a warning via the public-address system, he explained, adding that people in the building need to take action immediately.

“Don’t doubt what you’re hearing. You need to make a decision,” he stressed.

Weamer used the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., to illustrate the danger of simply locking a room, because it makes those trying to hide easier targets. Twenty-six children and adults were killed in the attack.

Instead, available heavy objects such as chairs, desks and bookcases can be used as barricades, which likely would deter an armed intruder by making it more difficult and time-consuming to enter. That technique prevented Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman who killed 32 students April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., from entering a classroom and possibly taking more lives, Weamer noted.

In the first of four scenarios, participants were instructed to replicate the traditional lockdown method, then, on cue, Weiser burst into the classroom and easily saw the participants huddled in a corner of the room. The quick re-enactment pointed to why a lockdown by itself is ineffective, Weamer explained.

“If this had been real, how many of you would have been shot? Probably all of you, and some of you would have been killed, make no mistake,” he said.

During the second scenario, attendees applied a few ALICE techniques by placing desks, chairs, tables and supply carts against the door, rendering Weiser unable to get in.

The next re-enactment had participants pretend to be between classes while encountering the intruder. In a matter of seconds, most had fled through the nearest doors.

“It was a little startling, but a big adrenaline rush,” said Steve DeMaiolo, a second-year Canfield Middle School sixth-grade science and social-studies teacher.

DeMaiolo added that he felt much better prepared to handle such an emergency. He said he planned to discuss his training and formulate a plan with his students.

The final scenario gave the school staff an opportunity to practice taking countermeasures. As soon as Weiser entered, many tossed tennis balls and other light objects at him to practice thwarting a gunman.

Beil, the third-grade teacher, said her school was on lockdown the day of the Sandy Hook school shooting, and that she felt Friday’s training empowered her to better keep her students as safe as possible in the event an intruder comes to her school.

“We’re going to give our kids a chance for survival,” she said. “We need to give the kids the feeling they can do it.”


1janeyblue3(85 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

I am a bit curious as to what type and caliber guns the Greeks and Romans used? I do not recall any guns being on display when touring the ruins and museums whilst in Greece.

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2southsidedave(5183 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

our world has definitely changed....

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3kk80586(229 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

janey- the statement was "all free nations freedoms were bought with guns.", NOT all wars in history were fought with guns.

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4redeye1(5512 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

RobX No one was armed at the Naval Yard Your buddy Billy Clinton made a law that said it was illegal for them to be armed. If you eliminate both Chicago and the district of Columbia which by the way have the harshest gun laws the U.S. We would be a lot lower on that scale. Get your facts right before you post RobX.

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5DOLE2(595 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

What a total waste of time!

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6kk80586(229 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

rob--you may want to look up the word 'correlation'. The nra has NOTHING to do with the number of gun murders in the U.S.A. What DOES have to do with the # is the lack of morals/lack of parental supervision/etc. in the inner-cities. If you subtract the number of gang on gang murders, the murder rate is much lower. Did you know that a hammer is used in murder more often than a rifle? And of those murders committed with a rifle that a scary looking rifle is only used about 1 percent of the time? 2A is here to stay, it's in the Bill of Rights....get used to it.

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7papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

no one is trying to confiscate "all" guns. just the killing machines that massacre little kids. these killing machine are meant for war and have no business being available to the public. even terrorists have easy access to them. anyone who's against banning ar-14s' are stupid.

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8kk80586(229 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

you mean the "scary looking guns"? Tell me the difference between an ar-15 and a 10/22 rifle. Is it the barrel covers (hand protectors) that scare you? Does the pistol type grip make the bullet coming out any deadlier? Do you realize that more people are killed with hammers than with rifles? Do you realize that of those rifles only a small % are those "scary looking" rifles?? Terrorists have easier access to ak-47's which this Country can't do much about. I'm all for banning ar-14's but anyone who wants to ban ar-15's IS stupid.

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9redeye1(5512 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

KK Papa Is your typical liberturd who believes everything that Obammy the ruling liar tells him. These same stupid people are too stupid to think that if the liar got one type of gun off the streets, that he won't bother to try to take them all . Obammy the boy is a GIANT LIAR. Just look at what he told his minions about their health insurance when he introduced OBAMMY care. You could keep yours, if you like it !! Just another LIe by him! So we the smart people can't and don't trust him or his minions about anything he or they say.

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10kurtw(1672 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Pathetic. Can't they come up with something better than that? The idea of training people to throw tennis balls at an armed intruder is ludicrous. How is that supposed to help- odds are it would only increase the likelihood of getting shot by further enraging an already unstable person.

Our schools aren't secure enough, that's the problem. Try getting into City Hall or any court house with a weapon- you can't- metal detectors and guards at every entrance and even the Main Library on Wick Ave. has an armed guard- meanwhile our schools are porous- virtually anyone can walk in. We're asking for trouble by offering an easy target.

Also, what's wrong with having a few people in the building- a maintenance worker or Football Coach, maybe- with a concealed carry permit? I would say, a judiciously aimed 9mm slug or two would carry lots more stopping power than a tennis ball or chair- even a heavy one.

P.S. Another point. How about handing out pepper spray- Mace- to some of the teachers? They shoot out ten to fifteen feet and anybody hit in the face with that stuff is going to be out of action for awhile. It's cheap, non-lethal, doesn't require a permit, and- unlike tennis balls- highly effective at stopping an armed intruder.

Of course, one possible drawback to giving Mace to schoolteachers, is the possibility- or probability given the quality of today's student body- that it might end up in the face of an unruly student instead of an intruder. Might not be such a bad experience, though, highly instructive for the student and- given the clout of their Union- the teacher in question wouldn't have too much trouble keeping his or her seniority- and tenure- intact. (The Vindy might even run a feature story on the incident- could promote a lot of fan mail for the teacher in question).

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