Preparing to counter the enemy is key to military success and public safety; active shooter trainings are one aspect.

Fort Jackson tested its emergency response efforts during an exercise held on post Sept. 25.

"The purpose of the exercise is to assess the schools' ability to react to an active shooter and the first responders' response capabilities," said Fort Jackson emergency manager Ramon Domenech.

These exercises test the readiness of educational staff and emergency personnel in handling active shooter situations to identify strengths and weaknesses, he added.

The training is conducted periodically in schools, units, directorates and organizations across the installation.

"This exercise (helps) the schools and first responders determine their readiness level, ability to follow established protocols … and what changes, if any, are needed to improve our protection capabilities," Domenech said.

Protocols for handling an active shooter in Fort Jackson schools vary based on the situation at hand, said School Resource Officer Lionel Brown.

"It depends on where (the shooter) is," Brown explained. Lockdown is the procedure if the shooter is outside.

If inside the building, Brown said a meticulous search is done once the threat has been identified. The instant gunfire is heard, "we're going direct to that threat," Brown said.

At the Training and Support Center, an active shooter scenario was simulated Sept. 25.

When the threat was detected, Ron Cooper, training support officer, sounded the internal alarm.

It alerted everyone to stay inside the building, go to a room with lockable windows and doors, lie down flat on the floor, call 911 to report their locations and to not respond to voice commands that didn't verifiably come from emergency services.

The military police and fire department responded to the scene. Emergency Medical Services arrived to give treatment to the "wounded."

There are some general guidelines Domenech says increase the chance of staying safe in an active shooter scenario.
"Run if possible, hide if running is not an option, and fight as the last resort," he said. "Situational awareness is key to surviving an active shooter attack."

Leave the scene and tell others to do the same if there are noises resembling gunshots or explosions, he recommended.

If you can't vacate the area, "lock the door, turn off the lights, get behind a desk, partition, or similar structure." Domenech advised. "Turn off all cell phone ringers and wait for the 'All Clear' to be given."

If an encounter can't be avoided, aggressive action is necessary.

"If a person comes in contact with the shooter, fighting -- by any means -- is the only choice," Domenech said. "Your only concern should be to eliminate the threat and survive the encounter."