By W. Wayne MarlowDecember 22, 2016
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Shooting incidents and other deadly attacks in public places happen with unfortunate frequency, so First Army wants to ensure its employees are prepared should they encounter such an occurrence. With that in mind, First Army Soldiers and civilians conducted an active shooter drill on Dec. 20 in First Army headquarters.
First Army antiterrorism officer, Master Sgt. Patrick Eves, served as exercise controller, and he stressed why such training is vital.
"It is important to teach everyone how to prepare and react in a situation that could possibly save their life or the lives of others," he said. "It's important to be able to exercise your plan and give everyone the chance to react to a dangerous situation without the actual risk of loss of life or injury."
At 9:10 a.m., Master Sgt. Thomas Applegate entered Building 68 and assumed the role of an angry employee and went office to office, yelling at workers and firing off notional rounds.
Soldiers and civilians barricaded themselves or otherwise sought shelter as Applegate roamed from cubicle to cubicle and from floor to floor. The first office he entered suffered two casualties, but another employee alertly dialed 911to initiate the emergency response.
This quick reaction was the result of previous training. "Giving everyone essential life saving techniques to survive an active shooter event while ensuring communication is shared to prevent more possible injuries," Eves explained.
The shooter found a third victim but was neutralized and apprehended soon after by Rock Island Arsenal police officers who arrived on scene. As soon as officers confirmed that no other shooters were involved, the exercise was declared over and participants gathered for an after action review.
During the AAR, participants discussed ways that individual and collective efficiency can be improved in emergency situations. Lessons learned from the day will be implemented in future policies. All in all, it made for a successful exercise.
"This was a great opportunity to see where we as an organization stand in the readiness of such an event. Just developing a plan is not enough these days," Eves said. "It is essential to exercise these plans to measure their effectiveness and to make improvements if needed. This was Phase Two of the training which started last year with a walkthrough of how to react in a dangerous event, which led to this more realistic event."