McNamara Headquarters Complex employees got a taste of how the building’s occupants would react in an active-shooter attack May 13 during a drill to train staff and emergency personnel.
“We’re doing exercises like this so people are prepared,” said Calvin Hicks, an emergency management officer for DLA Installation Support. “The exercise will also allow us to measure response times and learn where we need to improve.
The exercise had several objectives, including assessing the ability of the DLA Police force and HQC occupants to respond to an active-shooter incident.
Hicks said the full-scale exercise, which involved the entire HQC, was the first of its kind, and it was the first time the building had been evacuated to this extent since a 2011 earthquake.
Hicks and members of the DLA Installation Support Antiterrorism Team were quick to stress the necessity of a full-scale exercise to improve training for first responders.
“Employee involvement adds a new level to the exercise,” said Timothy Kwak, a member of the DLA Installation Support Antiterrorism Team. “It’s a benefit for both the employees and the security staff.”
DLA’s police force trains regularly for a variety of emergencies, but usually does it on nights and weekends.
“This gives police a chance to work on their responses while giving employees a chance to see how they would react if this was a real event,” Hicks said. “We’re doing this to make sure that we are prepared to respond effectively.”
To help employees prepare, DLA Installation Support Antiterrorism Officer James Johnston taught training sessions at the HQC May 5-8. Johnston recommended three strategies for an active-shooter scenario: shelter in place, exit the building when safe, or fight as a last resort.
The exercise began shortly after 10 a.m. and lasted about 40 minutes. During that time, employees in pods 1, 2 and 3 were required to shelter-in-place while police responded to the area where the notional active shooter was located. Employees in pods 4-10 were instructed to evacuate the building and report to designated assembly areas for accountability.
“I think this is far better than a PowerPoint presentation,” said Bryant Dunston, a human resources specialist for DLA Human Resources. “Some people just need to be walked through things to see for themselves how it’s supposed to work.”
Following the event, individuals assigned as observers met to compare notes and to give feedback to managers and first responders.
Hicks said the feedback was constructive and will be used to make improvements to emergency response plans.
“I think individuals can actually see how important training like this is,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal is to help people get home safe.”
Employees evacuate the McNamara Headquarters Complex during an active-shooter response training exercise May 13. The event was designed to train employees, assess first responder capabilities, and identify potential vulnerabilities in planning. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas
Bryant Dunston, a human resources specialist for DLA Human Resources, holds up a sign for members of his office so they can assemble for accountability May 13 during an active-shooter response training exercise at the McNamara Headquarters Complex, The event was designed to train employees, assess first responder capabilities, and identify potential vulnerabilities in planning. Photo by Navy Petty
Employees of the McNamara Headquarters complex take accountability after evacuating the building May 13 during an active-shooter response training exercise. The event was designed to train employees, assess first responder capabilities, and identify potential vulnerabilities in planning. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas