Lordstown safety seminar

LORDSTOWN – Creating even more chaos is one way teachers, students and school officials can help protect themselves in the event of a school shooting.

“Distract him,” police Detective Chris Bordonaro said. “Create mass chaos. Swarm the attacker. Throw things at the attacker and keep moving. Create distance between the shooter and themselves so it will be harder for the shooter to hit a target.”

Bordonaro said whenever possible, those in the opposite side of the buildings from where the shooter is located should get out of the building and gather to a pre-arranged location.

Bordonaro led a discussion with more than 100 parents and community leaders Wednesday night at Lordstown High School about a new safety program called A.L.I.C.E. – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

The program was introduced to teachers and school officials earlier in the school year. It is being introduced to students next week in programs at the high and elementary school.

Most students will follow the lead of their teachers, so they are well-trained in a variety of options they have before them during emergencies, Bordonaro said.

“The teachers and school employees are the real first responders, because they are the ones in the building keeping your children safe until we arrive,” he said.

“Prior to the Columbine shootings, school officials were taught to alert the classrooms and lock down the schools until the danger was over,” Bordonaro said. “Since that time, it has been determined school employees should be provided additional ways to provide for their own safety.”

A.L.I.C.E. adds the concepts of keeping people in the building informed of the actions of the intruder; confronting the intruder, if necessary; and, whenever possible, evacuation of the building.

“Keeping those in the building informed of the invader’s actions is key,” Bordonaro said. “It allows teachers and the students to determine what can or should done. The information also helps law enforcement and safety officials coming to eliminate the problem.”

The information gives those in the building time to lock and barricade doors by using whatever furniture is in the room to block entranceway into rooms to keep the shooter out.

“The more trouble intruders have getting into rooms, the more likely the shooting will move on,” Bordonaro said. “These intruders do not want to stay in one area too long.”

Even small actions can save lives, he said.

Most invaders entering school buildings to do harm are not expert shots, so if confronted by a suspect, teachers and students should not make themselves easy targets.

One parent questioned if there are metal detectors or other safety equipment in the school building.

First-year Lordstown High School Principal Jim Rasile said in his experience in other school districts when knives, brace knuckles or other weapons have been in the schools other students will find out and will tell their teachers or administrators.

“We generally have known and have taken care of the issue prior to the end of the first period,” Rasile said.

Superintendent Bill Pfahler added when parents see or hear something that is unusual about their student or see something in social media, they also have responsibility of informing the schools or the police.

Responding to a question of how long it takes to evacuate the school building, Rasile said it can be done in as few as 43 seconds at the high school building during a fire drill. The elementary school can be evacuated in just more than a minute.

Police Chief Brent Milhoun told the parents that his officers are cross-training with neighboring police departments. They can get the layouts of the school buildings on their computers in their cars when going to emergency situations.

Pfahler said the district, the police department and the village council are discussing ways to get a school resource officer in the school building.

However, a resource officer costs about $60,000 a year and said it would be difficult for the district to provide those funds without help, he said.

Milhoun added he has been attempting to get a state grant to pay for an officer since 2005.

Carla Click, a parent with two children in the Lordstown schools, called A.L.I.C.E. a wonderful program and hopes to see the district and the police continue to work with one another.

“I just hope we can find a way to fund getting a resource officer in the schools, as well as adding phones in each of the rooms in the high school, and cameras in the elementary school.”

David Gorsuch, a parent with a child in elementary school and one in high school, also approves of the cooperation among safety officials, the village and the schools.

“Doing a little bit of something is better than doing a lot of nothing,” he said.