The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: The reality we live in in an age with school shootings


It is not an uncommon occurrence to see school-wide active shooter or intruder drills take place. 

While it is not seen often at the collegiate level, we see it in our elementary, middle and high schools.  

Unfortunately, today it is a necessity that we teach students and even school staff how to properly protect and keep themselves safe.  

School personnel are often taught the ALICE strategy or method.  

This is the acronym and meaning provided by the company Navigate 360 who are the makers of the ALICE strategy. This information comes directly from their website. 

“A – Alert. Alert is your first notification of danger. Alert is when you first become aware of a threat. The sooner you understand that you’re in danger, the sooner you can save yourself. A speedy response is critical. Seconds count.

“L – Lockdown. Barricade the room. Prepare to evacuate or counter if needed. If evacuation is not a safe option, barricade entry points into your room in an effort to create a semi-secure starting point.

“I – Inform. Communicate the violent intruder’s location and direction in real time. The purpose of inform is to continue to communicate information in as real time as possible, if it is safe to do so. Armed intruder situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, which means that ongoing, real time information is key to making effective survival decisions.

“C – Counter. Create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately. Counter is not fighting. ALICE training does not believe that actively confronting a violent intruder is the best method for ensuring the safety of those involved. Counter is a strategy of last resort.

“E – Evacuate. When safe to do so, remove yourself from the danger zone. ALICE provides techniques for safer and more strategic evacuations. Evacuating to a safe area takes people out of harm’s way and hopefully prevents civilians from having to come into any contact with the shooter.” 

I have done ALICE drills as a student and I have done them as a staff member. I have gone through the motions of helping my fellow students or co-workers shove desks into doors and windows and rig door handles.  

Is it sad that I know how to rig a door handle three different ways to prevent someone from opening it?  

Although I have done these drills for what seems like a million times, I never thought I would have to follow the procedure in real time. 

Well, that is where things change.  

This past month, I was put in a situation where I needed to follow the ALICE method, and it was not a drill or planned at all.  

I looked at the other adults in the room, and my heart sank. I wanted to cry along with some of the kids, but I knew that would cause chaos.  

It is like that phenomena where a mom can lift a car off her baby with super strength due to all the adrenaline.  

The next thing I knew, I was slinging tables and chairs and herding kids into a corner.  

We sat there in silence just trying to hear and understand what was going on beyond the door for about 10 minutes.  

We heard the intercom click on next. It was personnel saying that the alarm had been triggered due to a technology glitch or error and there was no immediate threat.  

We were told to stay in place until law enforcement checked the building and secured our area.  

After a while, we were cleared, but there was still law enforcement around the building making sure everyone was okay.  

As I was there for the rest of the day, some kids could not shake it and I could not even shake it.  

I sometimes wonder if some people forgot about it a day later or even if they still think about it every day.  

I mention this because these events can be traumatic.  

Do we traumatize our schools every time we do an active shooter drill? 

My opinion is complicated. I think a better word is desensitized.  

When I become a teacher in the future, unfortunately, I need my class to know how to survive if an incident was to occur.  

That is just the hard truth in my opinion. The only reason I knew how to get up and act was because of the millions of times I had done it in schools growing up and for my jobs back home.  

I do not wish this tragedy upon anyone, but it is important to know what to do. The more we prepare ourselves, the more we can do to ensure everyone goes home at the end of the day.  

Frankly, that is just the reality we live with in this day of age. 


Ellen Dooley can be reached at 217-581-2812 or [email protected]

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Ellen Dooley
Ellen Dooley, Opinions Editor
Ellen Dooley is a senior special education major. She previously served as the opinions editor at The News.

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