Why do we buy alarm systems for our home? To keep us safe, to secure our homes, deter criminals and alert back-up at the first signs of danger. We feel comfortable when our home is secure because it means that we are safe.
But, how do we translate that feeling of security to the places where we work? Truthfully, most of us probably have not even thought about it or taken the time to put a plan together should we find ourselves in a situation that violated those feelings of security and personal safety in our workspace.
So, my question to you is this: What is your plan if you hear gunshots while you are at work? Do you run? Do you hide? Would you fight? As unrealistic as this scenario seems, recent events provide a reminder to all of us to keep active shooter preparedness at the forefront of our mind.
Active shooter incidents, in many cases, have no pattern or method to the selection of victims. This results in an unpredictable and perpetually evolving situation. It also means that anyone can play an integral role in mitigating the impacts of an active shooter incident. It is for these reasons the U.S. Navy requires all of its military and government personnel to stay up-to-date on active shooter training requirements and coursework. The difference between success and failure could be any one of us.
Take for example the media coverage of the Navy Yard shooting in September 2013. The gunman in that scenario was a contractor with access to the Navy Yard, classifying him as an insider threat to the men and women working at the Navy Yard. In situations like that, it is important to plan for your safety, so it is important to know the facts.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on average, active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes. Before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared, both mentally and physically, to deal with an active shooter situation. These situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, so it is imperative to know your plan ahead of time. During a crisis is not the time to start thinking about your plan. It is also important to exercise your plan periodically to maintain proficiency.
That’s exactly what NAS Lemoore has been doing the last two weeks: Practicing. All U.S. Navy CONUS installations participated in the annual exercise SOLID CURTAIN-CITADEL SHIELD (SC-CS). This is a two-part, linked Anti-Terrorism Force Protection (ATFP) exercise conducted by Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) and Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC). Exercise Citadel Shield 18 (CS18) is a Field Training exercise (FTX) portion led by CNIC. Exercise Solid Curtain (SC18) is a Command Post Exercise (CPX) portion co-led by USFF and CNIC. Both of these exercises are designed to enhance the training and readiness of Navy security personnel and better prepare Department of the Navy employees for potential Force Protection situations. These exercises also establish a learning environment for security personnel to exercise functional plans and operational capabilities.
The strength of the training received from SC-CS is in the use of realistic scenarios, ensuring U.S. Navy security forces maintain a high level of readiness to respond to changing and dynamic threats. Scenarios may include exercising different threat conditions that historically lead to some traffic delays. Installation personnel and community members may have experienced minor traffic back-ups during this time; however, this is unavoidable if we want to ensure the installation is prepared to deal with a crisis.
With regard to personnel who live and work aboard NAS Lemoore, it is never too early to develop a plan for your personal safety and the safety of your family. The time to develop a plan is now. Here are some factors you should consider when coming up with your own plan:
- Identify multiple evacuation routes and know your assembly areas.
- Account for any special-needs requirements.
- Maintain an accurate personnel roster.
- Designate hiding rooms/locations and develop a barricade plan.
- Consider developing alternate communication signals/codes; however, this is not effective against an insider threat like the Navy Yard shooter.
- Locate at least two exits when visiting other offices/buildings.
In the event of an active shooter situation, here are some rules that will help you respond appropriately. The action you choose depends on your existing situation:
RUN if safe to do so.
HIDE if you are in an office.
- Lock and barricade the door.
- Cover the windows, turn off the lights.
- Silence electronic devices.
- Remain silent and stay in place.
- Prepare to fight and look for something to use as a weapon.
TAKE COVER if you are outside.
- Put something between you and the shooter.
- If near a vehicle, hide near the vehicle’s engine if possible.
FIGHT if you are in imminent danger.
- Negotiation is not an option.
- Disrupt or disable the attacker by any means available.
- Be aggressive, incapacitate the attacker.
CALL 911 as soon as possible and provide the following information:
- Location of shooter(s).
- Number of shooter(s).
- Physical description of the shooter(s).
- Number/type of weapons.
- Use or threat of explosives/improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
- Whether or not they are still shooting.
Do not pull or respond to a fire alarm (unless an official announcement is made).
Be prepared. An active shooter situation is fast-moving, and law enforcement may not be on the scene right away. It is important to remain calm and let your training take over. Know when to run, hide and fight!
Protecting our Navy installations is extremely important. Safeguarding our Navy personnel, families, veterans, retirees, installation visitors and equipment at home is the first step in mission accomplishment. Every step we take with regard to the security of our installation is the very foundation upon which we all appreciate and enjoy a safe and secure environment. The ability to safeguard our Navy installations allows us to keep our homeland safe. Be safe and be ready.
All my best,
Captain David James,
Commanding Officer, NAS Lemoore