Ryerson’s community safety department is offering an emergency training program, aimed to teach skills that enhance traditional lockdown procedures.
As part of the Get Out. Hide. Fight program, enhanced lockdowns are different from traditional ones because they prepare people for an active attacker who tries to get into a classroom, said Ryerson’s director of community outreach Tanya Poppleton.
“Traditionally, kids in elementary school are being told to turn off the lights, to hide under desks and stay quiet,” said Poppleton,who is also a certified trainer for the emergency program. “An enhanced lockdown would be a little bit more than that, (such as) piling desks and chairs up against the wall, or, if you have a belt, using it to enforce the locking of the door.”
The training aims to show people how to use everyday items to increase their chances of survival, said the program’s special projects coordinator Marya Paknejad.
“We don’t want anyone to pre-plan, we want them to be prepared. You have to decide in the moment, you need to be aware of your options,” Paknejad said. “If the situation changes, you need to be able to change your options.”
According to a training video on Ryerson’s “Active Attacker” webpage, “Knowing your options ahead of time, means that you can think with a clear mind when fear and adrenaline kick in.” The video suggests that when encountering an active attacker, one should assess the situation, consider their options and then act.
Ryerson’s version of the program will be taught at different levels, Paknejad said.
Level one sessions involve two hours of option-based training, including presentations with video content and interactive questions to “get people thinking outside of the box”, Paknejad said. These sessions will occur once a month. Starting in October, level two sessions will take place twice during the fall semester and will guide participants through scenario-based training.
“We go through what “get out” means, what “hide” means, what “fight” means. They see examples of what they could do in those particular situations, to start thinking about what that looks like if you hear shots fired,” Poppleton said.
The training involved in Get Out. Hide. Fight originates from the A.L.I.C.E.(Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter. Evacuate) model, according to Poppleton. It was developed by a principal in the U.S. who felt that the traditions of shutting off the lights and hiding under desks wasn’t sufficient enough to ensure the safety of students.
Poppleton integrated the A.L.I.C.E model into Ryerson’s program in May. This came after a number of faculty questioned the school’s lack of training programs for active attacker situations.
“Several other universities and colleges have adapted a version [of the program] so it was just a natural transition,” Poppleton said. “We’re constantly evaluating our services, so whether we develop a program because statistics show us we need to, or not, we want to listen to our community.”
Both Paknejad and Poppleton said the training taught in the program can be applied to any situation involving an active attacker.
“I think everyone needs this training, not just Ryerson… you never know when you can be in that situation and where,” Paknejad said.
October’s level one training sessions are already at capacity, though Ryerson community members can still sign up for ones in November.