2013-10-11 / Community Events

Fort Gordon tests its citizens, MPs during “active shooter’ training

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

Floyd Thomas reviews the actions that occurred during an active-shooter scenario held Aug. 29 at Nelson Hall. 
Photo by Bill Bengston / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Floyd Thomas reviews the actions that occurred during an active-shooter scenario held Aug. 29 at Nelson Hall. Photo by Bill Bengston / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Recent mass shootings incidents around the country, including a Sept. 16 active shooter incident at the Washington Navy Yard has officials at military installations around the world reviewing safety plans.

The Fort Gordon antiterrorism office stages active-shooter exercises and rehearses incident scenarios to educate the community on surviving an incident.

According to Floyd Thomas, a Fort Gordon antiterrorism officer, an active shooter is a person actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. “In most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims,” Thomas said. “The overriding objective appears to be mass killing and injury.”

An active-shooter situation can occur anywhere and without warning. Officials state the time to learn what to do is not while the bullets are flying. The Fort Gordon antiterrorism office continuously plans, coordinates, and initiates active-shooter exercises on the installation to train members of the community to deal with similar situations.

The most recent activeshooter exercise was conducted after 10 a.m. Aug. 29 in Nelson Hall. There were two shooters, a female and a male, both carrying automatic assault weapons. They entered the building separately and proceeded to seek out victims.

Several shots were reported fired.

Then another shot was later reported by office workers as were the account of the shooters’ actions.

“Coping with an active shooter” information pamphlets were previously delivered to occupants in Nelson Hall to prepare them for the exercise, to evacuate the building, if they safely can or hide from the shooter and call 911. Only as a last resort when a person’s life is in imminent danger should they attempt to take action against an active shooter.

Law enforcement personnel arrived on scene and neutralized both shooters in less than 15 minutes, according to Capt. Williams Russ, the installation law enforcement operations and training officer. “We were testing our initial response and tactics.” he said. “We have certain tactics and procedures we use in this type of situation and we were testing our military police and security personnel.”

The Fort Gordon Installation Operations Center sent an email message: “Ladies and gentlemen, all clear is given to all facilities. I repeat, all clear, all clear. Exercise has been terminated.”

“We used our assets to test a real world situation,” Russ explained. “This was a short notice exercise and it worked well.”

Exercises such as the one held in Nelson Hall of an active-shooter exercise are announced to the personnel in the area where the active shooter exercise is to be held.

“It’s important that everyone takes it seriously. Don’t just walk to your car or your motorcycle and take off. If this was a true incident, where actual rounds were being fired, individuals would be taking cover or running away from the area,” said Lt. Col. Hollis L. Bush, provost marshal and director of emergency services.

“It’s important that the personnel involved in an active-shooter exercise treat it as a ‘real world’ exercise,” he added. “It’s our job to maintain safety in the community, but we need the community’s assistance in order to do that.”

Responding to an active shooter

Evacuate, if you can.
• Be sure to have an escape route and plan in mind.
• Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
• Leave your belongings behind.
• Help others escape, if possible.
• Prevent individuals from entering areas where the active shooter may be.
• Follow the instructions of any police officer.
• Keep your hands visible.
• Do not attempt to move wounded people.
• Call 911 once you are safe. Give information about the location of the shooter, number and physical descriptions of shooter(s) as well as the number and type of weapons the shooter has and the number of possible victims, if known.

Hide out, if you can’t escape.
• Your hiding place should be out of the active shooter’s view.
• Lock doors and block entry to hiding place.
• Silence your cell phone or pager.
• Turn off any source of noise (e.g., radios, televisions)
• Hide behind large items and remain quiet.
• Remain calm
• Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location.
• If you cannot speak because the shooter is close by, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.

Take action against an active shooter only as a last resort and when your life is in imminent danger.

Attempt to disrupt or incapacitate the active shooter by:
• Acting as aggressively as possible against him or her.
• Throwing items and improvising weapons.
• Yelling.
Once law enforcement arrives:
• Remain calm and follow the officers’ instructions.
• Put down any item in your hands (e.g. backpacks, cell phones, jackets)
• Raise your hands, spread your fingers and keep hands visible to police at all times.
• Avoid quick and sudden movements.
• Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling.
• Don’t stop to ask officers for help or directions when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises.

Source: Quick Series Active Shooter Response

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