News | June 29, 2018

Commentary: Active Shooter Exercise from a Volunteers Viewpoint

By Dawn Sutton DLA Land and Maritime People and Culture

As I read the May Command Daily Announcements, I came across, “ROLE PLAYER VOLUNTEERS NEEDED” and I was intrigued.  Emergency Services needed volunteers to act as casualties, witnesses and various other roles for the Emergency Preparedness Exercise June 21.  Moreover, I thought this sounded interesting and informative. So I thought to myself, do it – so I signed up.

It was not quite as easy as one might think.  There were a couple of meetings involved.  Emergency Services needed confirmation of my commitment and supervisor approval. I found out what the exercise would entail and which role I would play.  No, I didn’t get one of the coveted “victims” or “Dead on Arrival” roles, but I was happy with running out of the building towards our police officers.

The big day arrived and all the volunteers were huddled in the break room.  We watched the victims become bloody and gruesome right before our eyes and suddenly the seriousness of the exercise set in.  We headed out to our various spots, waiting for the exercise to begin.

I was forewarned that even though it was a drill and I knew the whole plot, my adrenaline would rush.  All of a sudden, you could hear the “pop, pop” of a gun.  It was simulated and I knew exactly what time it would be going off, but my heart still started racing and a second or so of panic set in.  The active shooter played his part well and I began to wonder what I would actually do should this ever happen to me, whether on Center or not.  I had my directions and my script, and headed out the door to safety.  I looked for those first responders and watched as the victims were evacuated.   It’s a surreal sight, one I hope to never witness outside of an exercise.

I highly recommend you volunteer for this event and any events of similar nature.  It’s an eye opening experience!