NEW ORLEANS --
Marine Forces Reserve stepped up its readiness and safety measures here, as it prepared more than 1,200 personnel assigned to the Marine Corps Support Facility New Orleans for emergency situations that might arise.
“Our most valuable asset is our people,” said Lt. Col. Brian Hardy, commanding officer of Headquarters Battalion, MARFORRES. “We have to ensure that our work environment is safe and secure. We need to be prepared in the event there is an emergency so everyone can come out safely.”
Included in the latest preparation phase, MARFORRES conducted an active-shooter drill, in which a simulated gunman barricaded himself in the Headquarters Bn. offices and took hostages.
“The goal of the active-shooter drill is to prepare everyone for a scenario that is happening more and more,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Harilson, operations chief for Headquarters Bn.
MARFORRES personnel followed the protocol of “run, hide, fight” which encourages evacuation when possible or hiding in a safe place when it is not.
However unlikely these scenarios are, it is imperative that MARFORRES is prepared, said Hardy.
“What I don’t want is people falling into the trap of thinking ‘it can’t happen here’,” said Hardy. “This building is brand new and has lots of safety features built into it, but so did the Titanic. I believe it would be a big mistake to believe that an emergency can’t happen here.”
Also on the list of preparatory actions was a full-evacuation fire drill where personnel were directed to their new evacuation area for the first time.
“MARCORSPTFAC is a unique building in a unique area,” said Harilson. “It presents a security issue for the Marines to rally in the previous points, so we needed to make sure everyone could be familiar with the new area.”
Coordination with internal and external agencies is vital to the readiness process, Hardy said. The support facility relies on local first responders for a lot of emergency support, and everyone has to know what the Marines are doing so the local community doesn’t panic.
“The fire drill was executed with a fairly high degree of success,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of our personnel were outside of the building in less than three minutes.”
Marines and civilians at the support facility should look to their section leaders for specific guidance on what they should do in the event of an emergency.
Marine Forces Reserve is comprised of the Force Headquarters Group, 4th Marine Division, 4th Marine Logistics Group and 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, which are located aboard Marine Corps Support Facility – New Orleans, and operates 181 Reserve sites across the United States and Puerto Rico.