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Acmetonia Primary Center staff aces shooter drill

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:56 a.m.

Allegheny Valley School District officials believe the staff at Acmetonia Primary Center is well equipped with options for emergencies.

The assessment came from elementary Principal Greg Heavner and Jan Zastawniak, the public relations director, who briefed the school board Monday night about an active shooter drill held at the school on May 29.

According to Heavner, about 45 people participated in the drill, including staff, local police departments and even two clergymen, that simulated an armed intruder in the building.

It was done to train staff on how to react and keep students safe in such situations.

Heavner said the training was in a new system or protocol known by the acronym “ALICE,” which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Communicate, Evacuate.

Heavner said the community was made aware of it beforehand. He said that was done through notices sent home with students and information published on the school district website and in the Valley News Dispatch.

“Lessons learned were communication through the process, itself,” Heavner said.

He said understanding the need for using common terms among all those who would be involved is an example of that.

“What we are giving the staff is options,” Zastawniak said.

She said that includes the ALICE training, classes through self-defense school INPAX, and traditional lockdown.

Traditional lockdowns are done when school officials are alerted to a threat in the area around the school and are meant to keep the students inside and the danger outside.

Zastawniak said the INPAX training, conducted at the beginning of the last school year, showed staff defensive tactics that can be used to protect themselves and the students. For example, she said that included showing the staff how to effectively barricade themselves in a classroom.

The ALICE training makes staff aware of the need to communicate with each other and with emergency responders in such emergencies and also how to react, depending on where the threat is in the building.

She said for instance, if a teacher is made aware that an armed intruder is on the other side of the building, that provides an opportunity to evacuate the students.

“They actually fit together really very well,” Zastawniak said.

Heavner said ALICE will be implemented throughout the district. He said an analysis of how people and procedures performed throughout the drill was conducted at a briefing afterward.

“Everyone left that briefing thinking that it was successful,” Heavner said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or

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