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Nursing home staff learns how to handle an active shooter

MADAWASKA, Maine — Close to 30 employees at High View Manor received training on June 26 from the Madawaska Police Department to learn what to do in the event of an active shooter at the nursing home facility. 

Nancy Cote-Daigle, an administrator for High View Manor, a nursing and rehabilitation facility, said the training is mandated by the Center for Medicare Services under emergency preparedness.

“We wanted to do this fictitious active shooter exercise to prepare us should there ever be an event such as this,” Cote-Daigle said. 

This was the first year for the facility to do the required annual training. High View Manor sought out training from the Madawaska Police Department after word got out about the ALICE training  Madawaska Police Lt. Jamie Pelletier had done with the schools. 

Pelletier has been working with other members of law enforcement to train local schools in the Valley on the ALICE technique of active shooter training. 

ALICE, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate, is a strategic training program designed to equip individuals with the necessary skills they would need to use if ever an active shooter or aggressive intruder were in the building or on school grounds.

While High View Manor is not seeking ALICE training certification, Pelletier and Madawaska Police Officer Sam Dechaine taught the staff techniques that were along the same lines. 

“We have three options that we teach,” he said. “One of them is to evacuate if possible, another is to shelter in place or barricade yourselves, and the last option would be to counter the threat and disarm the person if you can.”

The exercise began with Dechaine approaching the window of the nurse’s station asking for a pretend resident while wielding an orange rubber gun. During the first exercise, traveling nurse Maya Sharma was able to disarm Dechaine before he got very far. 

“We have educated all our staff for how we can protect ourselves in this situation,” Sharma said. “I think it is very helpful.” 

Sharma made sure to actively call out for help and used clear language to identify that there was a pretend active shooter on the floor in her area — something Pelletier said is crucial to alerting other people of danger. 

“Don’t use code words,” Pelletier said during the training. “You want to be as clear as possible.” 

The goal, he said, is to also go through this same training with other nursing homes in the area. 

“We’re running these drills to give them practice, but to also find out where the weaknesses are and where we could improve things,” he said. 

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