A timely reaction, Exercise shows responders are ready
June 9, 2011
At 8:16 a.m. on May 24, the call went out - someone had fired shots in an Anniston Army Depot building.
Immediately, the depot's Directorate of Emergency Services sprang into action, surrounding the area with a police presence and finding a way to safely extract the wounded.
Around the installation, red phones rang, warning everyone an incident had taken place and the Emergency Operations Center was activated and staffed with responders who could best handle communications and logistics operations.
The situation was a test, an exercise to determine the depot’s response to an active shooter incident and it was quickly obvious that, had this been a real emergency, ANAD could have handled the incident.
“The active shooter exercise went very well due to significant preparations from the exercise design, team led by Mr. Latimer of the Depot Operations Office, and the efforts of our first responders and emergency operations center personnel,” said Phil Trued, depot chief of staff.
“Every member conducted themselves in the same manner as if it was a real situation. Lessons learned were captured with assistance from internal and external evaluators, such as Center for Domestic Preparedness employees, and we will work to address deficiencies and maintain our strengths. While we work to ensure the depot never has to deal with a serious incident such as an active shooter, this exercise better prepares the depot to respond to any future event.”
The scenario involved a depot employee who believed his civil rights were being violated because he considered himself a Sovereign citizen, a person who thinks the laws of our federal government do not apply to them.
This individual gained entered Bldg. 94, where he had a counseling appointment, and shot eight other people before taking his own life.
The exercise, though brief " it lasted four hours " tested the communications of DES internally and with their counterparts outside the installation.
It also tested the depot’s ability to respond to an emergency and coordinate an appropriate response.
“The law enforcement response to the active shooter and the treatment of victims were done very well,” said Kent Latimer, emergency manager and CBRNE operations specialist for the depot. “The ability of Anniston Army Depot to carry out the safety and security of our workforce was validated by this exercise.”
Latimer said the emergency drill " which involved approximately 40 personnel in design, control, evaluation or role playing " was made up of four phases. These phases were indicators, notification, response and recovery.
During the indicators phase, the depot’s ability to catch early warning signs of violent behavior was tested.
“We have good processes and procedures in place and indicators were identified,” said Latimer.
Notification tested how long it took from the firing of the first shot to calls received by the Directorate of Emergency Services, their notification to the Operations Center and notification to depot employees.
The notification tests were performed two ways " via depot landline and via cell phone " both calls, according to Latimer, were received by DES well within the timeline established by Army standards.
During the response phase, Latimer and the other members of the Exercise Design Team, wanted to stress and overwhelm the depot’s resources " giving responders more wounded than they could handle without outside assistance.
The responders rose to the challenge, quickly realizing what the situation warranted, they called for assistance from cities in the surrounding area.
The response phase also tested the depot’s ability to communicate to the workforce and the community.
“A traumatic incident of this nature is going to take not just days, not just months, but, maybe, years to recover from,” said Latimer of the depot’s recovery phase.
Latimer said the depot’s response went well and that within two hours of the incident, family and employee assistance programs were established.
In a real life scenario, those programs would be ongoing as long as needed to help depot employees and family members affected by the incident.
The Exercise Design Team is now performing a root cause analysis and developing a corrective action plan. However, Latimer said there is little that has to change for the depot to be fully ready for a real life event.
“I think we’re ready for whatever emergency comes our way,” he said.