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Column

Anywhere, anytime

The gunman’s screaming was the first thing we heard, followed by the sound of shots fired. We were in a staff meeting in a conference room and knew we had to act quickly. Shutting the door and crawling underneath the table seemed the most logical strategy, but he found us. All but two of us were shot.

As we exited the conference room the Jasper County Sheriff’s deputies explained the dangers of simply hiding from a violent intruder. This was part of our ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training we received on Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon the latest mass shooting occurred in Hesston, Kan. killing three and injuring 14 others.

If your business isn’t prepared for a violent intruder it should be. Gun violence in America is real, and while many of us will pray for the victims of the repeated mass shootings in our country, we should also be preparing. We’re fortunate that both the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Police Department provide this free training to businesses, schools and others seeking training.

Newton Schools staff have received ALICE training and it’s reviewed annually. New staff members are trained as part of their orientation. Most schools in Jasper County have taken advantage of the ALICE training and have incorporated it as part of emergency preparedness.

Tornadoes and fires in schools aren’t very common. Yet we can all likely remember practicing these drills with some regularity. We have protocols for these unplanned events.

In the aftermath of the Columbine massacre, in which 13 people were killed and 20 wounded, it became evident the “shelter in place” procedure was insufficient. It became regularly communicated the average time for law enforcement to arrive on scene in situation like this is five to six minutes. The common practice in schools nationwide moved from locking down and hiding to the “run, hide, fight” methods featured in the ALICE training.

I became a proponent of these concepts after initially receiving the ALICE training about four years ago. Developing plans, having situational awareness and talking to others about it has made me feel more prepared.

There are people, and even dear friends, who will reference their concealed carry permits and how that’s all the preparedness they need. While I have no qualms with people legally and safely protecting themselves, there are limitations. Perhaps the business you’re visiting doesn’t allow weapons on the premises, maybe you forgot your gun at home because your boss called an early meeting or your kids are sick or any number of other life situations. Developing plans in a number of different scenarios is ideal.

In Hesston, Kan., a city with a population of 3,700, is grieving last week’s violent attack at local factory. Many other communities across this country continue to mourn the effects of gun violence. We should know by now that it can happen anywhere, anytime.

Contact Abigail Pelzer
at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530
or apelzer@newtondailynews.com

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