By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 7, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 7, 2013) -- The U.S. has had its fair share of threats, both foreign and domestic, but Fort Rucker officials want to make sure that the installation isn't caught off guard in a life or death situation.
The Feb. 12 training will stress active shooter office survival, and Jim Lee, chief of plans, operations and mobilization for the Directorate of Plans, Training Mobilization and Security wants people on the installation to take a more hands-on approach to this Tactical Tuesday and learn the procedures: run, hide and fight.
"For this Tactical Tuesday we want to mix it up a bit," said Lee. "Rather than just do the old 'open up the manual and see what force-protection measures we're suppose to do,' we're trying to do something a little bit more real world. What we're going to do this time is take it down to the supervisor level and have them do a crawl, walk, run in their workspace."
The plan for Feb. 12 is to have members from each unit, organization and office on the installation go over and implement their own specific force protection measures as if an active shooter were present in their particular building or office, he explained.
"Situations like the Fort Hood, Texas, and Newtown, Conn., shootings are reminders that active violence can and does happen on our installations and on the communities' streets," said Lee. "Such attacks can take place anywhere, and rarely will law enforcement intercede immediately."
For that reason, people need to be able to implement their own force-protection measures in case of an incident, he added.
Lee wants to make sure that people observe the environment that they work in and become familiar enough to know exactly how and where to get out, where they would be able to hide and what they would need to do in a last-resort scenario.
"If you can't get out of the building or you can't evacuate, you're going to have to hunker down in place," he said. "When you read about the force-protection measures, they talk about moving book cases and furniture in front of the doors and things like that, and that's all fine and dandy until you try to pick up that bookcase and slide it against the door [never having done it before]."
In the case that people have to "hunker down" in their offices, they should make sure that they try to alert the authorities as soon as possible and remain "deadly quiet," said Lee. At the least people should call the police and just lay the phone down so that authorities have the opportunity to hear what's going on and trace the call to find their position, he added.
The exercise is designed to figure out what people are capable of doing in case of an actual active shooter incident. If a person has never actively tried to block a doorway before to slow an intruder, they would find themselves in a dire situation if they found they were unable to do so during an actual occurrence, said Lee.
"That's what this [Tactical Tuesday] is for," he said. "We want supervisors to walk through, procedure by procedure, and talk to their people about this. We want them to say, 'This is our plan, now let's walk through everything.'"
One of the things that Lee advises not to do is pull the fire alarm.
"We're taught when we were kids that if we need to evacuate a building to pull the fire alarm, but that's something that you absolutely don't want to do when there's an active shooter," he said, explaining that doing so could put more people into harm's way rather than help.
Lee also spoke about the last-case scenario in the event that people would have to confront an attacker head on. Simply put, they would have to fight off the intruder, he said.
"The shooter is there to kill people and supervisors need to [stress] that this is a life-or-death situation," he explained. "They need to talk to their people about weapons that they might be able to use like pens, scissors, bookends -- anything that they can throw or hit with."
"In some of these offices, there is usually one exit and one entrance, and if an active shooter enters one of those buildings, there is no hunker down scenario," said Mike Whittaker, installation anti-terrorism officer. "They've got to be prepared to fight off the attacker if they want to survive, and that's the grim reality that they've got to discuss."
Along with going over the types of weapons that they can use against an attacker, Lee and Whittaker stressed that people have to work together as a team in that last-case scenario.
"Hopefully we will never need to implement these procedures, but if and when we do, we want personnel to be fully trained in the correct procedures to follow," said Lee. "And steps learned during the active shooter training creates situational awareness and can be applied anywhere an event may occur."