Scary scenario: Chaplains practice active-shooter plan
November 4, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Gunshots echo through the halls. Co-workers scream in terror. With panic sinking in, what should you do to save yourself and others'
Active shooter incidents are on the rise in this country, and at military installations. At Fort Jackson, post officials are working with organizations to develop plans in the event of a shooter.
Tuesday, the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School held an active-shooter drill to test its plan. The school is one of the first organizations on post to have the Directorate of Emergency Services and the Force Protection Office observe and participate in an active-shooter drill.
"The main thing we learned was what procedures work and what procedures don't," said Chaplain (Maj.) William Wehlage, USACHCS director of operations. "As a result of the rehearsals, we will rewrite our contingency plan and continue training. It is important for us to rehearse this as we get new personnel."
The school's scenario involved a disgruntled worker coming to the school and opening fire. The mock shooter wore a long black coat using an air horn as a fake weapon.
"Virtually everyone got out of the building, which is a good thing," Wehlage said. "It is very imperative that (we) stand ready and protect our most important asset, which is our personnel."
DoD has mandated that every office have a plan for an active shooter. The DOD sent down the guidance following the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, where a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 30 others.
"The first thing you need to do is try and stay calm," said Mark Mallach, Fort Jackson's anti-terrorism officer. "Although it is easier said than done, you need a calm mind so you can remember your training."
Resources to develop a plan are available through DES and the installation's Force Protection office.
"Not only do you have to have a plan for your particular area, because every area is special, you need to have a drill," Mallach said. "Look at the facility and identify safe rooms and where an active shooter is likely to enter the building. You also need to remember that once sheltered, you should not come out until your area is cleared by security personnel. You need to follow the directions of security personnel for obvious safety reasons."
The Force Protection Office and DES can be called out to observe and in some cases participate in drills for active-shooter plans.
"Come up with a plan, brief everyone and drill the plan," Mallach said. "You need to let external places around know what is going on and inform DES ahead of time about the drill."
Mallach said that whether an incident occurs inside or outside, seeking shelter from the shooter is the No. 1 priority.
"Seek and find shelter immediately. If it is a room that can't be locked, barricade it," Mallach said. "Running into a room where you can't lock the door is not the best idea because the shooter can gain access into the room. The key is to identify safe rooms that can be secured from the inside. When it comes to cover and concealment you need to find places that can stop a bullet."
If there is an opportunity to flee the building safely do so, but be careful you are not in the line of sight of the shooter.
"As a last resort, fight," Mallach said. "Swarm the shooter and use whatever is available as a makeshift weapon to protect yourself and disable the subject."
Once personnel have gotten safely out of the building or are in a safe room, someone needs to call 911 or 751-9111 on post. A rally point, or points, should be planned so an accurate count can be made of those that have safely gotten out of the building.
Active shooter materials and publications are available on the Fort Jackson common server under Force Protection in the Reference Publications folder.
To contact DES about observing or participating in an active shooter drill, call Sgt. 1st Class Paul Payne at 751-3149, or the Force Protection Office at 751-2132.