By Staff Sgt. Edward A. Garibay, 16th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJanuary 28, 2014
Run, hide, fight. Those are the steps to deal with an active shooter. Run from the assailant first, then hide in a secure area, and as a last resort, fight if your life is in danger.
It may seem counterintuitive for service members to run and hide when bullets start flying, but it is important for military and other civilians caught up in a stateside active-shooter incident to allow police to handle the situation so there are minimal casualties, according to Air Force Master Sgt. John E. Campos, a contracting specialist with Defense Contract Management Agency in Dallas.
"Active shooter training is new to the (Department of Defense) -- it's not doctrinal yet, so you can't hear enough 'run, hide, fight,'" said Air Force Maj. Steven W. Vanden Bos, the commander of the 28th Contracting Squadron from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. "You can have an active shooter incident wherever you are, so the more times you hear 'run, hide, fight' the more it becomes automatic."
Vanden Bos said these steps can be life saving measures both on and off duty, and can be especially useful for military contracting specialists and officers like him, who might find themselves in a similar situation while providing support to natural disasters.
"Say, for instance, we're supporting a disaster and someone doesn't get the help fast enough," he said. "They don't understand what the procedure is and decide to threaten you with force. The more your muscle memory says 'run, hide, fight' the more prepared we will be."
While Vanden Bos and Campos might seem like seasoned professionals at this type of scenario, actually they just received active-shooter training at Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014 as a part of a weeklong train-up to the exercise.
"This is really valuable training, especially in light of recent events like the Washington Navy Yard shooting," said Campos, referring to the Aaron Alexis shooting in September 2013 that killed 12 people. "I work in a big office with 300 people, so it's important to be aware of the procedures to follow in the event of an active shooter."
The training also holds increased significance for participants of OCSJX-14 because most of them are preparing to respond to natural disasters and could find themselves in a situation like Vanden Bos described, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin A. Carter, the trainer for the active-shooter class from 412th Contracting Support Brigade, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
"If there was an active shooter and people didn't know what to do, it would be chaos," said Carter. "By following these steps, it gives people a sense of 'I know what to do. I know how to react.'"
The training at OCSJX-14 did not stop with just active-shooter training. Participants were also instructed on how to react to someone threatening them with less than deadly force during natural disaster assistance or people who might take advantage of a disaster and attempt to act out, according to Army Master Sgt. Andres J. Garcia, active-shooter training noncommissioned officer in charge.
"They had issues like that during Hurricane Katrina," said Garcia. "So it's good they all know how to go about those steps and the procedures that are out there. We have to keep our people safe. We have to know the proper ways to say, 'hey, back away,' and keep everyone safe."
By understanding these procedures, these operational contracting support specialists and officers will be better suited to handle any sort of interpersonal dispute that could arise.
"I can definitely see this training coming in handy if you have something like a looting situation," said Campos. "Say there's a mass-scale looting of medical supplies. Medical supplies are crucial, so you want to stop the looting as quickly as possible."
With all of the added value planned into OCSJX-14, one of the biggest benefits is the training on active-shooter situations and reacting to threats that can actually be applied to just about anywhere they go, said Carter.
"This training gives you a sense of awareness," he added. "You have to go into your mind to have a plan of action. This situation could happen at any time, so you need to be prepared."