Active shooter exercise helps employees train, prepare for threats

By Bonnie Koenig DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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In today’s world, active shooter incidents are more frequent and unpredictable. In the midst of such an event, employees can play an integral role in mitigating the impacts of an active shooter incident by practicing run, hide, fight techniques.

Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond conducted an active shooter exercise Jan. 19 on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.  The exercise assessed the installation’s response to a critical incident involving an active shooter, while challenging the workforce to properly react to the incident while emergency responders safeguard employees.

DLA Installation Support at Richmond’s Installation Emergency Manager William Bullock said it is a DLA enterprise requirement to conduct the training. 

“The training is important to reinforce skills of responders and employees,” said Bullock. “It helps improve response time and hone reaction strategies used to survive if such an event were to happen.”

He said the annual training event is held in a different location with a different scenario to provide different challenges for the responders. The objective is to check current strategies, procedures and practices and to check the memorandum of understanding for practices established with local police, fire and emergency services, as well as with the Virginia State Police Explosive Ordnance Unit.

“Collaborating with other agencies provides understanding of the role each agency will play in an active shooter event,” said Bullock.

Bullock said setting up the training began three weeks prior to the event. The coordinators named one employee to be the active shooter. This person sat in his normal work area and throughout the period, behaved erratically, talked about things that were not normal for him, accessed areas he wasn’t authorized to be in, and asked other employees questions to gather intelligence. This scenario was set up to test the DLA iWatch system, to find out if someone would report his behavior. 

As another part of the scenario, the active shooter planted an incendiary device in a stairwell. The focus of this part of the exercise was for responders to practice getting employees out safely and establishing a cordon area until an explosive ordnance unit neutralized the device.

Another part of the exercise was working on the operational communication plan. In the event of an active shooter, the police and fire and emergency services form a command unit that communicates the current status to leadership.

Bullock said during the exercise, the setup of the Emergency Operations Center was successful, appropriate personnel were involved, the Command and Control Center tracked information coming in and relayed it to the appropriate personnel, as well as to employees through the installation’s mass notification systems.

“The overall event went well, but there are always areas for improvement,” said Bullock. “The police, fire and EMS, employee participants, and myself as the installation emergency manager are conducting an internal review to identify the areas that went well and the areas that need improvement.”  Those reports will be compiled into a single after action report to use as a baseline for the next event.

“Our objective is to prepare, respond and protect employees in the event of an active shooter,” said Bullock. “Don’t be complacent. Be proactive and report unusual behavior. By practicing and implementing lessons learned from this training, we will make our installation a safer place to work.”

Bullock suggested other ways to prepare within an organization are to develop an accountability plan, practice exit and shelter-in-place strategies, review safe practices when calling for emergency help, the necessity of turning off cell phones, and removing your common access card from the computer.

The Department of Homeland Security website defines an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.  Employees may already know a majority of incidents involve the use of firearms, but according to the DHS website, the term “active shooter” may also apply to an individual armed with any other type of weapon (e.g., bat, knife, explosive, etc.). 

Employees can review the DHS active shooter booklet for additional information to help them respond to an incident.

An article previously published on DLA Today from DLA Installation Support at Richmond titled “What to do in an active shooter event,” provides full details of how employees can respond to various emergency incidents that involve active shooters and includes a useful active shooter training video.