August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Rasmussen is a DMA Section Marshal assigned as a human resources sergeant with the Wisconsin Army National Guard in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs trains section marshals from each tenant office in order to reinforce emergency action planning and to assist supervisors in executing emergency action plans and accountability procedures.
While training near Boston in June, I was able to visit some of the sites that were cradle to our great nation. As a Guardsman, it definitely hit home standing near Concord Bridge, next to the Minuteman statue where “once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.” I was, unfortunately, also reminded of a darker and more disconcerting side of Boston’s recent history. While on a run one evening, I passed by the federal facility where the man suspected of killing three and injuring more than 160 at the Boston Marathon is being held until he faces trial.
All of my Boston experiences were reminders to me of the expectations that are upon each and every one of us in the National Guard—civilians and service members alike. We are expected to be minute-men and –women, prepared and willing to act and respond on a moment’s notice—whether we’re fighting tyranny, inclement weather, homegrown violent extremism, a train derailment, or acts of terrorism from abroad.
It’s easy to think that terror attacks would never strike our Wisconsin communities, but it has before (like at UW-Madison’s Sterling Hall), and we cannot afford to be blissfully ignorant to the threats that are out there.
Terrorists specifically target civilians in hopes of inspiring fear and chaos in our everyday lives.
When we acknowledge that the practice of targeting civilians is out there, the proactive question then becomes: How can we prepare against terrorism?
Any athlete will tell us that to be successful we must practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more – until it becomes muscle memory. In our profession, it is sometimes hard to know what to practice for, but success stories from after action reviews in the aftermaths of tragedies around the world show that it is surprisingly simple: Know your surroundings, know antiterrorism strategies, evacuation procedures, emergency protocols, and know the tools you have at-hand.
At work, will your chair break through that window if you need to evacuate your office? Where is the nearest fire extinguisher? How about the automated external defibrillators?
When travelling, pay attention to your surroundings and give some thought to how you can protect yourself. Think about which floor you book your hotel room and keep an eye on your luggage or report suspicious luggage or activities.
Even at home, there are simple security measures that you can implement that might keep your family safe. We are also vulnerable to cyber threats, so ensure you take measures to protect your computer systems.
For more information and tips about how to prepare and protect yourself and your family from potential emergencies, visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov