I recently attended a Multi-Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC) class held by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Police Department, which is the primary law enforcement agency protecting the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN).
For those not familiar, the MPTN consists of the Foxwoods Resort Casino/MGM Grand at Foxwoods complex, the largest casino under one roof in the United States, and various smaller commercial, governmental, and residential buildings in Ledyard, CT.
However, knowledge from the class is helpful whether people are employees or customers in any public place.
Expect the Unexpected
The terror attack carried out in Mumbai taught the world to expect the unexpected and that an attack in one corner could be a diversionary tactic for terrorists to do something bigger.
MACTAC classes were first started on the west coast to train emergency departments to respond to both terrorist threats and active shooter situations which involve ” unrestricted access to additional victims ” .
To best prepare for terrorist attacks and active shooter situations, officials and the general public should be engaged in thoughtful emergency operations planning before implementation which includes being aware of the:
- Possible Dangers
- Nearest Exits
People should stay calm in an emergency and pay attention to their inner voice in determining the most reasonable way to protect their lives. Employees who work in public areas should keep in mind whatever decision they make, customers will follow their lead.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created An Active Shooter: How to Respond booklet where information from the class came from.
While in a fire, people are told to evacuate, planning for terrorist attacks and active shooter situations requires folks to decide whether to:
- Take Action
If the decision is made to evacuate an area, people should use an accessible escape route.
Folks who are evacuating and running have an advantage over those who stay in place as it’s harder for an active shooter to hit a moving target, who must:
- Perceive you as a target
One’s decision to evacuate should be made regardless of others’ decisions to stay or to follow. People should leave their belongings behind and assist others in escaping, if possible. Folks should prevent individuals from entering potentially dangerous areas.
After evacuating, they should call 911. People should provide emergency personnel information describing the situation and follow their instructions.
Assistance to the Wounded
Folks who help wounded individuals are placing themselves in more danger of getting shot by the active shooter. If the shooter has moved on from the area, it is a personal decision whether to help the injured. The best decision, though, is to clear the area as police, EMS, and fire departments will provide aid.
If people are located in an office or an enclosed room away from exterior doors, they should shelter in place behind locked and closed doors through concealment and taking cover.
People should place themselves in an area where the active shooter is less likely to find them. Folks who shelter in place should have options for movement, if possible. They should stay away from windows and doors and silence their cell phones, pagers, radios, and other devices. Shooters have limited time and cannot check every room; they often look in areas where there is noise.
People who stay in place should take cover behind something that will stop a bullet. A door will not stop a bullet from an AK-47 but a cement wall will.
If a person does not have options to evacuate or hide, they should remain calm and attempt to control their fear. He should call 911, if possible, and if he cannot speak, leave an open line for responders to listen in to the situation.
As a last resort measure for survival when facing an imminent injury or death, a person should disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.
A person can act aggressively toward the shooter by:
- Engaging in physical attack
- Throwing items
- Using improvised weapons
It is important for the person not to let up until the shooter is incapacitated.
In an active shooter or terrorist attack, emergency services from various departments will respond. Folks should make their hands visible and get out of their way.
They will be committed to:
- Stopping the active shooter or terrorists
- Ensuring there are not other active shooters or terrorists
- Clearing the area of explosives
- Providing aid to victims
- Processing the area as a crime scene
Active shooter situations typically end with one of three results:
- The cop kills the shooter
- The shooter kills himself
- There is a hostage barricade
Usually one of the first two results occurs, according to “Special Analysis: The Active Shooter Threat.”
The best offense and defense for acts of terrorism is prevention. The seven signs of terrorism include:
- Surveillance (video cameras found in odd places to capture an incident)
- Information Gathering (asking odd questions to security personnel)
- Test of security (measure of reactionary times of emergency services)
- Acquiring Supplies
- Suspicious Persons and items
- Dry Run/Trial Run
- Deploying Assets
Law enforcement personnel must think like a terrorist or shooter to help prevent incidents from occurring. There have been many success stories of terrorist and shooter plans thwarted due to people calling tip lines which have not been reported on by the media. Suspicious incidents or suspected acts of terrorism can be reported by:
- Calling 1-866-HLS-TIPS for Connecticut’s Homeland Security
- Visiting https://ctic.ncirc.gov/cwf/index.html
- Calling 911
People are encouraged to report using the first two options as it will allow emergency personnel to see a wider prevue of intelligence.