• Philip Asher and Eric Marshall, Fort Sill firefighters, put on hazardous material suits as they prepare to investigate a suspicious package during the postwide anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 17 at the Welcome Center, Bldg. 4700. The Level A HazMat suits offered the highest protection to the reconnaissance team.

    Suspicious package

    Philip Asher and Eric Marshall, Fort Sill firefighters, put on hazardous material suits as they prepare to investigate a suspicious package during the postwide anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 17 at the Welcome Center, Bldg. 4700. The Level A HazMat suits...

  • Soldiers from the 761st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company set up a robotic device that will enter the mailroom in Building 4700 during a full-scale exercise Sept. 17. Even though the 761st EOD is deployed, its rear detachment has enough teams here to do its Lawton-Fort Sill missions.

    Explosive Ordnance Disposal

    Soldiers from the 761st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company set up a robotic device that will enter the mailroom in Building 4700 during a full-scale exercise Sept. 17. Even though the 761st EOD is deployed, its rear detachment has enough teams here to...

  • Jeremy Thomas, incident commander, talks on the radio during the postwide anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 17 at the Fort Sill Welcome Center, Bldg. 4700. The scenario involved a chemical laden package found in the mailroom.

    Anti-terrorism exercise

    Jeremy Thomas, incident commander, talks on the radio during the postwide anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 17 at the Fort Sill Welcome Center, Bldg. 4700. The scenario involved a chemical laden package found in the mailroom.

  • Fort Sill Police officers Sean Carter, William Smalls and David Rodriguez move up the stairwell in Taylor Hall here as they do a room-by-room search during an anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 18. The annual exercise was part of the Installation Protection Program, which evaluates resource management, communications and critical decision-making in a timed, stressful environment.

    Active-shooter exercise

    Fort Sill Police officers Sean Carter, William Smalls and David Rodriguez move up the stairwell in Taylor Hall here as they do a room-by-room search during an anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 18. The annual exercise was part of the Installation Protection...

  • Col. Glenn Waters, Fort Sill Garrison commander, gives a mock press conference during the anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 18 outside McNair Hall here. The colonel answered questions about the active shooter at Taylor Hall; nine people were killed and five were injured in the simulation.

    Press conference

    Col. Glenn Waters, Fort Sill Garrison commander, gives a mock press conference during the anti-terrorism exercise Sept. 18 outside McNair Hall here. The colonel answered questions about the active shooter at Taylor Hall; nine people were killed and...

FORT SILL, Okla. -- The frantic call came in about an hour after the workday had started. An employee hiding under her desk called 9-1-1 on her cell phone with shocking news. She had heard numerous gunshots coming from the Fort Sill Garrison commander's office at Taylor Hall, and she had seen casualties. As the dispatcher listened he could hear screams and more gunfire.

An active-shooter with numerous victims was the scenario on Day 2 of the postwide annual anti-terrorism exercise.

Response tested
The full-scale exercise Sept. 17-18, tested the garrison's emergency services response as well as the communication flow between the incident commander, emergency operations center and garrison commander, said exercise director Steve Sayer, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security's Plans Branch chief. The exercise was part of the Installation Protection Program, which assesses resource management and critical decision making in a timed, stressful environment.

On Day 1, mailhandlers in Building 4700, the Welcome Center, discovered a package with an oily substance on it. Fort Sill Police patrolmen were first on scene and evacuated not only the mailroom but also the basement. Had this been a real event the entire building would have been cleared, said Sayer.

Pfcs. Andy Lopes and Justin Whitehead, Fort Sill Military Police K-9 unit, and their dog Dag, did a sweep of the offices near the mailroom for possible explosives.

Incident Commander Jeremy Thomas, Fort Sill Fire and Emergency Services assistant fire chief, contacted the 761st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company here who sent a team.

EOD Soldiers used a robotic device that located the parcel, and they X-rayed it remotely. The Soldiers determined that it was not an improvised explosive device.

Thomas then gave the green light for a two-man team of firefighters in hazardous material suits to go into the mailroom for further investigation. Everything looked normal to them until exercise controller Steve Gluck, Fort Sill emergency manager, threw in an exercise inject, or monkey wrench, that the players had to deal with.

Device identified
In their hot suits with condensation forming inside, the firefighters looked at their narcotics, toxic chemical and explosive detection device. The device displayed: Tabun GA.

Radios cackled as the firefighters relayed this information to Thomas. Virtually instant research by Thomas and his waiting crew revealed Tabun to be a household pesticide, however, it can also be used a chemical warfare agent.

The firefighters were told to double-pack the parcel in cellophane bags and a sealed plastic bucket, and to come out and proceed to a decontamination station.

At the height of the chemical threat, 18 firefighters from two fire engine companies, half a dozen police officers and several Soldiers from the EOD were at Building 4700, Thomas said.

During the two days, many injects were thrown at the players that they had to respond to as part of the exercise.

The scenarios included a vehicle accident at 52nd Street Gate, an alarm going off in the Armed Forces Reserve Center armory and someone trying to bring weapons and IEDs through Apache Gate, said exercise player Darren Doyle, Fort Sill Police officer.

"Those are things we respond to everyday," he said.

Although this exercise involved a chemical threat and a shooting, the principles and techniques used to respond to these emergencies can be applied to any crisis on post, such as a major fire, Sayer said.

Jared Burks, Fort Huachuca (Ariz.) Fire Station captain, participated as an evaluator of the incident command post.

"I was looking at the command post communications, how clear their 'size up' was of the incident and how well they reported it to units arriving on scene," said Burks. "I also evaluated their resource managment how they requested additional units, either on post or off post."

Sayer said he was looking at how well the exercise participants worked together. At the end of each event there was an after action review with the players. And, at the completion of the exercise there was an AAR with upper level commanders to evaluate how the units functioned as a team.

After the chemical threat exercise, Thomas said he was pleased with his firefighters response.

"I thought they did very well. It was a textbook response following our standard operating guidelines," Thomas said. "The exercise provided us with a great training opportunity to get some real-world skills to hone our craft."

Page last updated Thu September 26th, 2013 at 00:00