Soldiers and emergency response personnel evacuate a simulated casualty from a 2013 active shooter force protection exercise. An active shooter scenario is the focus of Feb. 8’s Tactical Tuesday exercise. (File photo)
Published: February 4, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 4, 2016) -- With threats and occurrences of active shooters on the rise, Fort Rucker antiterrorism officials want to make sure people on the installation are prepared for any threats that might come their way.
Feb. 8 is Tactical Tuesday and is focused on active-shooter training for all of the various organizations on post, and Mike Whittaker, Fort Rucker antiterrorism officer, wants to make sure people are doing more than just reviewing their plans by taking a more “boots on the ground” approach.
“With the string of violent crimes across the U.S., people need to be prepared,” he said. “The stats are staggering for here in the United States to the point where the (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is having trouble keeping up with them.”
The last report put out by the FBI was in September 2014, said Whittaker, and for incidents in the United States alone, there were 160. According to the report, there is an average of 11.4 incidents annually, and 1,043 people are injured and 486 killed, he said.
From 2000 to 2013, the growth rate of these active-shooter scenarios increased from 7 percent of annual growth in the first three years to 16.4 percent annual growth from 2007 to 2013.
“We never know where these shooters are going to come from,” said the antiterrorism officer. “It might be a friend, relative or coworker, but the reaction has got to be the same. Every action or inaction you take effects, not only you, but a family member, friend or coworker. It doesn’t matter where you are, you’ve got to be proactive when reacting to a scenario such as an active shooter.
“Run, hide or fight,” he said. “That’s what people are going to have to do. Don’t depend on someone else to act or for a supervisor to show up – it’s a team effort.”
Whittaker said rather than simply going over their plans for an active shooter this Tactical Tuesday, people need to actually play out the scenario, so that they’ll know what they can or cannot do in that moment.
“If, in your plan, it says to move a safe in front of the door in order to stop an active shooter from gaining access, then you’ve got to get your team together and physically move the safe to see if it’s possible,” said the antiterrorism officer. “It wouldn’t be too good if an event happens and you find out you’re not able to move that safe into place.”
The exercise is designed to figure out what people are capable of doing in case of an actual active-shooter incident. Additionally, people need to figure out what to do in the event that they’re not able to evacuate, because running will not always be an option, he said.
In the event 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 as quiet as possible.
There won’t always be a way out, said Whittaker, and in those cases, people are going to have to fight for their lives.
“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,” he said. “They’ve got to be prepared to fight off the attacker if they want to survive – that’s the grim reality that they’ve got to discuss.
“If you’ve got no place to go, you’ll be fighting for your life and that’s what people need to keep in mind,” he continued. “You can’t wait for someone to save you at that point. You’ve got to take action – it’s either going to be you or him.”
As grim as it may seem, people should go over the types of weapons that they can use against an attacker, and Whittaker stressed that people have to work together as a team in that last-case scenario.
This doesn’t apply to only facilities on military installations, he added.
“This also goes for churches, schools, medical facilities – this can happen anywhere, so people need to be prepared in case it does,” said Whittaker. “You see it on a global scale, and people always think ‘it can’t happen here,’ but that’s always what people think that it happens to.
“Wake up and be aware, and use a little common sense,” he said. “We’re not trying to tell people how to run their lives, but we are trying to give people information that they might need to potentially save their lives.”
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