What is the best way of dealing with someone who starts firing a gun inside a school or a business?
Nineteen people from law enforcement, schools, and businesses learned about the most effective strategies during an active shooter response training course at Alexandria Technical and Community College Friday.
It was part of the ALICE Training Institute, an acronym for the key steps in reacting to a shooter: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
Those attending learned skills that bridge the gap between the time a violent event begins and law enforcement arrives.
One big lesson: The old way of dealing with an active shooter-hiding away in a corner of a classroom-isn't effective.
When participants tried that as one of the scenarios, the "shooter" just entered the room and shot all of them with rubber bullets.
Instead, the participants learned how to be proactive by placing obstacles between themselves and the shooter by barricading the doors with chairs, desks and other furniture.
If the shooter makes it through that, the next step is to throw objects at him.
"We were throwing bottles, a fire extinguisher, anything we could do to disrupt his plan until help gets there," said an attendee.
Another important element of the response is the "inform" part-using the public address system to alert others in the building about the shooter's whereabouts.
Through scenarios, participants also learned how to subdue a shooter and disarm him.
They also went over the steps of evacuating a building and getting everyone outside and safe, as soon as possible.
ALICE-Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate-is a set of proactive, options-based strategies that increase survival chances during a violent intruder or active shooter event. The ALICE Training Institute has provided the course to individuals and organizations across the country for 14 years.