EAGLE POINT, Ore. – A shooting breaks out at Eagle Point High School. The gunman, armed with an airsoft gun, charges into a classroom, firing rounds at administrators seated at the desks.
The victims, protected by paintball masks and armed with foam balls, unleash their payloads on the attacker. During the chaos, two administrators come from the side and tackle the gunman.
The entire drill lasts mere seconds. Despite a flurry of rounds, not a single victim is hit.
“We are the first responders,” said Valerie Cordle, Assistant Principal at the school and one of the organizers of the training. “When something happens on campus, we are the first responders before police show up.”
The training is part of a national program called A.L.I.C.E — which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. It’s a hyper-realistic program, designed to rehearse a shooting scenario as accurately as possible.
And it’s a program police say is essential in a district where some schools are too far out of reach for a quick response.
“For Butte Falls, it could be 15-20 minutes depending on who’s the closest unit at that time,” said Michael Anselmi, an Eagle Point police officer and School Resource Officer at Eagle Point High.
But an emergency response, no matter how effective, is only the last line of defense. In addition to the training, the district is applying for two grants totaling $5 million for more counseling and support staff.
The idea is to bolster the school’s existing mental health resources and stop a disaster before it starts.
“We need to have layered interventions depending on the need of that kid,” said Phil Ortega, a Student Services Coordinator for Eagle Point School District. “Giving kids choices and staff choices goes hand in hand.”
Those grants could be approved as early as the Fall. But in the meantime, administrators say this training will be extended to teachers when the school year starts to improve upon the existing lockdown drills done with the students.
Rather than simply practicing hiding under desks, they say they’ll be able to train students for specific scenarios and hopefully save lives should the worst happen.