By Spc. Michael Adams, 3rd ID Public AffairsFebruary 17, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - In order to prepare for any potential crises that may come to Fort Stewart, the installation conducted a training exercise, Feb. 9.
During the exercise, a role-player, posing as a live-fire shooter, took over the Soldier Service Center on the installation and took hostages. Military policemen on the installation attempted to capture the gunman and lead the hostages to safety.
Major John Stanley serves as the mobilization chief for Stewart. He was one of the people who organized the exercise.
He stated the overall goals of the exercise we to give the first responders training to deal with a potential crisis like this, give the Special Response Team for Fort Stewart a chance to deal with a real-life crisis scenario, give hostage negotiators a chance to practice leading potential hostages to safety and give civilian employees the opportunity to train on evacuating during a potential crisis and the ability to handle a crisis while it happens.
"We were successful in accomplishing those goals," said Maj. Stanley. "Anytime you get an opportunity to do one of these exercises it obviously pays big dividends in our readiness. There's nothing more important than the safety and security of our Soldiers and civilians on this installation. And we take that very seriously."
Behind the scenes, Maj. Stanley added that the Emergency Operations Center on Stewart were accounting for everyone in the building, coordinating and giving resources and following orders of the garrison commander to make sure the crisis was resolved.
During the exercise, there were people who played shooting victims, complete with fake wounds, who were lying on the ground screaming in pain. Military policemen, first responders and the Stewart SRT eventually tended to all victims, neutralized the shooter and led the hostages to safety.
Preparation for this exercise began almost a year ago and involved every directorate on the installation in order to make sure everyone on the installation understood how to deal with such a crisis.
Judy Waynick is the installation adjutant general. She was in the building when the scenario happened. As part of the training, everyone in the building was supposed to withdraw to their offices, lock their doors and dial 911, which she did.
While she was not a hostage, she sat in her office, and heard victims screaming and gunshots fired.
"The exercise worked pretty well," she said. "We've been discussing this now for about a month or so, or actually since the shooting at Fort Hood and we've developed a pretty good plan to respond to this kind of thing at the Directorate of Human Resources."
Waynick added that she worked with someone who was in the same building at the time of the murders at Fort Hood. Her co-worker said there was no plan to respond to a potential live-shooter scenario like this and that she feels a lot more secure knowing there is a plan to respond to potential scenarios like this.
Sergeant Douglas Chapman, the noncommissioned officer in-charge of the SRT, led the team to capture the gunman during the training exercise.
"We were able to identify points we need to work on," he said of the exercise. "We can use this to develop future training plans and exercises to make sure that we address those issues that we identified so that in a real-life incident, those mistakes aren't made."
Sergeant Chapman added this was the most realistic training the installation will get to deal with this kind of scenario.