ALERRT at Texas State University Trains 140K first responders since Columbine
Updated by Manuel Garcia | April 19, 2019
Program developed in response to school shooting 20 years ago
April 20, 2019, marks the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado. Since then, schools from across the nation have established school safety programs and procedures to keep students safe. In response to the shooting, Texas State University, the San Marcos Police Department and the Hays County Sheriff’s Office formed Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) in 2002.
ALERRT has trained more than 140,000 first responders at its facility in Maxwell and in communities across the country. Training is free for law enforcement, due to federal grant funding to make sure officers receive the skills needed to take down an active shooter. ALERRT executive director Dr. Pete Blair says the courses are developed from collecting information from past shooting events, including police reports, the number of people injured or killed, the type of weapon used and how the situation was resolved.
“What makes us distinct from other active shooter programs is that we have a heavy research component. We are really using data to drive what we’re teaching, as opposed to just expert opinion,” says Dr. Blair.
For example, research from ALERRT revealed that the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was compounded by a lack of coordination between police and fire department medics, which slowed the delivery of lifesaving medical care to victims. In response, ALERRT developed the Active Attack Integrated Response course, which trains police, firefighters and EMS to communicate effectively during an emergency.
Since its inception, ALERRT graduates have utilized their training in real life scenarios to save lives. For example, a woman who took ALERRT’s active shooter response class for civilians saved her life when she later attended the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, where a shooter opened fire and killed 58 people, injuring hundreds. She said her training helped her identify immediate exits at the venue, ultimately saving her life. In December 2017, two Buda police officers used their training from an ALERRT class and applied tourniquets to save a man’s life after he was involved in a motorcycle crash.
“ALERRT has affected not just law enforcement but police, fire, EMS and the community,” says Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd, who also teaches ALERRT courses. “It’s made a huge impact on a very big problem and has made us all better prepared.” For more information on ALERRT, go to https://alerrt.org.