AKRON, Ohio - One year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, more elementary schools are turning to the Medina-based ALICE Training Institute to offer survival strategies.
"The one thing I'll say about Sandy Hook, it was almost like a pressing of the accelerator pedal in that it drove that interest at a much faster pace," said Greg Crane, the founder of the ALICE program.
Crane estimated about 400 school districts across the U.S. have been trained in Alice, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Nearly half of those districts are in Ohio, which is why Crane, from Texas, decided to move his headquarters to Medina about eight months ago.
Crane stresses that his program, implemented after the Columbine High School shooting, urges teachers and students to move from passive to proactive behavior and empowers them to take action in the moment.
He said there are many steps people can take to make themselves harder targets for a gunman, which could include throwing items at the armed intruder.
"Noise, movement, distance, disturbance, anything that you can do to impact his ability to engage his skill set to shoot accurately," he said.
Daniel Bickett is and ALICE trainer and a school resource officer at Roswell Kent Middle School in Akron. He was part of a committee of officers, teachers, parents and administrators that developed a plan to teach the program to elementary school children.
"When I was in front of the kids doing the presentations, they brought up Sandy Hook. I never even brought it up. They know about it. It's not something that we can hide from them," Bickett said.
At the elementary level, Bickett gives a PowerPoint presentation and shows videos, which explain to kids when they should evacuate a building and when they should barricade their classroom door.
Crane recently sent a letter to the Akron Police department recognizing Bickett's program as "truly one of the best examples of teaching the very young ones the ALICE concepts that I have ever watched."
He also indicated the model will be replicated by law enforcement and school personnel all over the country.
Bickett also give more aggressive options to middle and high school students if they should come into contact with a gunman.
"If you have a classroom of varsity football players and the bad guy comes in, they could take him down," he explained.
Crane said there's no "one-size-fits-all answer" when it comes to handling the horror of a school shooter, but believes a passive and static approach has to change because it's more likely to lead to more injuries or deaths.
"There are no rules. You do whatever you've got to do to survive," he said.