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Wood County board OKs shooter response training

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Michael Erb Don Brown, safety coordinator for Wood County Schools and a former Parkersburg Police officer, presents information Tuesday on A.L.I.C.E., a national training program. The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday approved training Wood County Schools employees.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Michael Erb
Don Brown, safety coordinator for Wood County Schools and a former Parkersburg Police officer, presents information Tuesday on A.L.I.C.E., a national training program. The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday approved training Wood County Schools employees.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Wood County Schools will move forward with an active-shooter response program, and training for employees could begin within the coming weeks.

The Wood County Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved the use of A.L.I.C.E., a national training program which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, for Wood County Schools employees.

Don Brown, safety coordinator for Wood County Schools and a former Parkersburg Police officer, said in the past schools have emphasized lockdowns and students and staff hiding when there is a threat in a school. More recent school shooter incidents have changed that mindset, and while lockdown remains a part of A.L.I.C.E., the program emphasizes getting students away from a shooter and evacuating the school.

“We have to give our children the best opportunity to survive something like this,” said Williamstown Police Chief Shawn Graham, who attended the training last week. “Staying and hiding is not in the best interest of our children.”

Brown said the training will be free to employees and will be conducted in the evenings at the former Lincoln Elementary School in Parkersburg, now the site of the district’s Adult Basic Education program. Brown said officials used a grant from Wal-Mart to establish a training room, hallway and stairwell in the building as well as to purchase equipment for the training.

Brown said about 15 employees can run through each training session, which lasts about four hours. Those sessions will allow school employees to work with responding officers from those cities, such as having Williamstown Elementary School employees train with Williamstown police officers.

Schools in rural areas will train with neighboring cities until the Wood County Sheriff’s Department or State Police can be trained in the A.L.I.C.E. program, Brown said.

Brown has advocated adoption of the A.L.I.C.E. program for years, and said he has received nothing but positive feedback from area law enforcement and Wood County Schools employees.

Representatives of the Parkersburg Police Department, Vienna Police Department and Wood County Prosecutor’s Office attended Tuesday’s meeting to show their support.

Board members were universally supportive of the program, saying the change in active-shooter response has long been needed.

“It’s the way to go, people,” said board member Lawrence Hasbargen. “We need to protect these kids.”

“We need to be prepared,” said board member Jim Asbury

“I think we are moving in the right direction,” said board President John Marlow. “I’m all for it.”

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