By Amy Zink, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public AffairsMarch 28, 2011
VILSECK, Germany - The day started like any other at the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Rose Barracks Fitness Center. Employees gathered around the front desk while waiting for a professional training to begin, when a Soldier in uniform pulled a pistol and fired a shot.
As the shot echoed through the gym, employees jumped with a look of shock spread across their faces.
"That's the reaction I was hoping for," said Sgt. 1st Class Lloyd Young of the USAG Grafenwoehr Directorate of Emergency Services, as he held up his pistol loaded with blank ammunition. "Once you hear that shot it gets your attention."
Young and Sgt. 1st Class Sean Etchells were the trainers that the fitness center staff members were waiting for and he was there that day to conduct the second phase of the Workplace Violence Training offered by the garrison DES. The focus of the training was to get employees in public and customer service arenas to think about what would happen in the event a shooter walked into their facility.
"I hate to say it, but it's not a matter of if, but when this will happen," Young said. "The staff are the leaders in the facility. You have to be prepared to react."
After getting their attention in a very effective manner, Young proceeded to ask the staff if they had devised an effective plan to react to a violent customer.
"I would engage them in a calm way. Maybe if I talk to them, they will calm down and talk with me'" Claudia Avery, RBFC recreation assistant, asked Young.
"There's not one right answer," Young said, "that's why you need to have a plan in place to protect yourself."
Young stressed that anyone who finds themselves in a violent situation should think about their plans, remain calm and use the tools available. Young asked the employees what tools they had at their disposal that could distract a shooter and get the attention off of themselves. At first they were slow to answer.
"We're trapped back there (behind the desk)," one said hopelessly.
But, after a moment of brainstorming, they realized that everyday items could be used to save their lives.
"Throw boxing gloves and weight belts," said Carl Boothe, RBFC sports programmer. "It'll sting. All you need is that one second to get out of there."
"It may buy you some time," said Etchells.
Young also suggested using air horns, whistles, throwing a heavy object into glass or throwing something into the eyes of the aggressor. He also emphasized that you should not wait to see if the shooter will fire.
"Run out that door!" Young said. "It's human nature to watch, I'm telling you to run to the quickest exit."
Young's and Etchells' training was well received by their students.
"It was absurd in the beginning," said Avery, "but, you think about it and discover options, become aware and strategize."
Carleton Campbell, RBFC facility manager, also believes the training was beneficial. He is hoping to schedule a third and larger scale training for the staff, and would like to have the employees go through their emergency plan and practice.
"This is real-world training and it is beneficial for the staff and in the garrison. If we're aware, we're capable of reacting better," said Campbell.
Young and Etchells said they are available to train any organization on post. This includes private organizations, family readiness groups, front door customer service facilities, schools and military units. Their number one goal is to get the word out and teach people how to keep themselves safe in an active shooter situation.
Part of the training will be to teach you how to look "objectively at the facility, wherever you are," said Young. "We want to focus on what to do (in this situation)."
The training sessions start with a workshop and discussion of the things to do, such as come up with a concrete plan and ensure all employees are aware of the plan, how to notify emergency responders and how to help customers. The second workshop is scenario-based, such as the training at the RBFC. Young and Etchells will take the time to look at the facility and guide the staff to possible solutions for violent situations.
The DES team also partners with, and has trained, the German Polizei and ambulance services.
"They respond to our emergencies," Young said. "It helps if we all know each others' SOPs and emergency procedures."
Young said his training schedule is very flexible and can even be offered in the evening. He encourages organizations to contact him, or their local garrison DES, to inquire about the training. For information, call DSN 476-4301, CIV 09662-83-4301 or e-mail Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.