Jim Clark, a captain and paramedic with the Buckeye Fire Department, is normally out and about trying to help people.
But here he was, snarling with a violent voice: “I’m gonna find you! And you’re never gonna forget me!”
Last week in Peoria, 150 people were hunkering in various rooms of a church, cowering from Clark. Armed with a “gun,” the howling Clark was hunting them down — and firing.
In just under 5 minutes, Clark shot 34 people. None were injured, as Clark was shooting foam pellets.
This was part of a “train the trainer” active shooter scenario at Christ Church of the Valley. The event was sponsored by Cleveland training institute ALICE, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.
Before several intense exercises, ALICE staff gave presentations to first responders and community members from around the Valley, with the hope that the participants would in turn stage exercises in their communities.
In the church, ALICE’s Brandon Rhone was preaching a specific message: Survive.
He encouraged the first responders to use the tools they were learning to train others — especially at schools.
To those who worry active shooter training might be traumatic to kids, Rhone has a ready answer: “Every kid in school has to do a fire drill once a month.
“Can’t we train the same kids to increase their odds of survival with active shooter drills?” he asked.
The goal, he stressed: “Increase survivability from an act of violence.”
Rhone gave examples from around the country where school staff disarmed students who might have caused great harm.
“I’m not saying trade punches for bullets,” he noted.
In an interview, Sarah Gasper of the Phoenix Police Department noted first responders and others have already been talking to schools about potentially violent intruders.
“This is taking it to the next level,” she said. “It’s hands-on, practical training.”
That’s exactly why Justin Adams of the Buckeye Police Department attended.
“I wanted to come and take this course to be able to help the citizens of Buckeye,” Adams said. “Knowledge is the most important thing.”
What had he learned from the ALICE presentations about active shooters?
“Doing anything is better than doing nothing,” Adams said. “I want to give people that knowledge: Do something, rather than just sit there.”
In addition to playing the bad guy, Clark also was glad “to be educated and to be able to educate citizens.”
Even for someone in his line of work, where horrific injuries are common, this training had a shocker:
“The reality of the numbers and how much devastation can happen in such a short time,” he said.
For more information, see alicetraining.com.