KSU safety workshop offers tips on how to neutralize gunman

Simon Husted

ALICE program gives hands-on training

ALICE program gives hands-on training

Surviving a school shooting takes more than just a code red alarm.

Renee Romine, training and development associate in Kent State’s human resources department, said locking the door, turning the lights off and sitting still have their places in the beginning of a school shooting crisis. However, steps like these won’t always prevent an armed attacker from reaching you, and students, faculty and staff must know what to do when a dangerous gunman encounters them.

“You don’t have to think of the situation as helpless,” Romine said. “There are things you can do to prepare yourself.”


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At the workshop Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (or ALICE), Romine and KSUPD Sgt. Joseph Hendry instructs students, staff and faculty how to respond in these dangerous situations.

The workshop teaches how to respond to an active gunman threat in a way that will result in a higher chance of survival. Many of the responses, Romine said, are left out when schools teach students about their lockdown procedures.

In the workshop, Romine uses an example from the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. Romine said the gunman, Sueng-Hui Cho, was not a skilled marksman but killed 32 people before killing himself because traditional lockdown procedures conditioned students to stay quietly still either under a desk or on the floor, making them easy targets. She said after the massacre, investigators learned Cho had visited shooting ranges to practice his aim. At the range, Cho asked for all of the targets to be taken off any hangers and lain on the ground.

“He grew up doing lockdown as well (in school),” Romine said. “And so that’s how he trained.”

Compliance is the worst thing to do in these types of incidents — far worse than attacking the gunman, Romine said.

“If you comply, you’re going to die in these situations,” Romine said.

“In some cases it may be different, but when you have someone shooting and killing people and they say to stop, you don’t want to comply.”

Romine said most gunmen in these situations aren’t skilled shooters and the best way to survive may just be to constantly move and keep distanced from the gunman.

Romine advises to first look for a nearby exit but if none are reasonably nearby, a person’s next best option is to enter a room full of other students, lock the door and barricade it with as many items as possible.

Romine advises four things not to do when you encounter an active gunman:

• Don’t negotiate with the gunman. According to the workshop, the gunman typically has thought the incident through and wants to take as many lives as possible before taking his or her own life.

• Don’t target the weapon when attacking the gunman. Attacking may save you and your peers’ lives, but people often focus too much attention to the weapon, Romine said. The most effective way to distract and/or neutralize the gunman is to attack or throw items at his or her head.

• Once the gunman has dropped his or her weapon, do not pick it up. Holding it may cause a dangerous and misleading picture when authorities arrive. To eliminate the threat of the weapon, Romine advises to keep it under or in a trash can.

• Don’t sit on the ground with your back facing the door. Incidents involving a gunman can happen very abruptly, Romine said. Attention must be focused on the door.

“If you’re in lockdown, you want to be in planning mode,” Romine said. “If the gunman gets in here, you want to be up, ready and moving. You want to be in a position so you can take action if need be.”

To learn more about how to survive an active gunman threat, students can visit the Human Resources Web site and register for an ALICE Training workshop. The next three ALICE workshops will be offered April 6.

Contact safety reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].