‘Empowering people:’ Hundreds attend active shooter training in Strongsville

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio-- The active shooter incident at the YouTube headquarters in California on Tuesday is a reminder that mass shootings can happen anywhere.

Several hundred representatives of businesses, places of worship, colleges and law enforcement agencies from as far away as Florida were in Strongsville on Wednesday, sharpening their skills in a program designed to help people survive such an incident,

The ALICE program is taught in schools, but the founder of the ALICE Training Institute says the same skills can help people protect themselves anywhere.

"Businesses are upwards of 70 percent of these events so while they don't get a lot of the notariety as the schools do, for obvious reasons....far more public random mass shootings happen in the private sector than in the public sector," said Greg Crane, who founded ALICE training 17 years ago.

Speaking at Wednesday's seminar was Logan Cole, a senior at West Salem Liberty High School in Ohio. Cole was the only student shot during an active shooter incident at the school in January 2017.

"I was shot once in the chest, once in the lower neck upper back. And I obviously survived and the student didn't injure anyone else in the school," Cole said.

He said he believes one reason the gunman, another student from the school, was unsuccessful in injuring or killing more students was because the school had a plan.

"The one thing I know about ALICE is it definitely empowers people to do something," Cole said.

His father said he agrees and believes the same skills can have a life saving application at businesses and elsewhere in the private sector.

"We are never going to be able to stop all bad things from happening so the best thing that we can do is to piece together a plan to react to that to minimize the impact. And I think ALICE goes a long way toward empowering people to make decisions and in that type of a situation," Ryan Cole said.

"You had students barricading doors, you had students breaking windows to get out, and you had administrative staff entering that extremely dangerous bathroom and taking control of the situation," said Cane explaining those are exactly the skills taught in his ALICE program.

Akron police teach the skills for free.

To date, businesses that have had the training include GOJO Industries, Dominion East Ohio and FirstEnergy, in addition to all of Akron's public and charter schools.

The department is scheduling training courses at local businesses, but Officer Lauri Natko, who teaches the program, said she would like to see more.

"On a scale of how large the city of Akron is, the phone should be ringing all day long for this because we do offer this as a police department. We reach out to our community and try to do this training, and we should be busy all day long with how prevalent these shootings are going on in the United States," Natko said.

"Just by training and reaching out to these people, and doing this type of training we can prevent a lot of this, a lot of these tragedies from occurring."

"Hopefully, it never happens in anyone's life, but they should be prepared. They should have some idea on how they will respond in this type of a situation,"Natko said.

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