First responders stepped up to the plate

In the days following the Fort Hood shootings a lot has been made of the valor and heroism of the first responders on the scene. And it should be. From the Soldiers on the scene at the Family Readiness Center who pulled fellow Soldiers to the ground or moved the wounded to safety to the police officers who rushed to the scene, bringing down suspected shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, our Army community stepped up to the plate.

An article in the Christian Science Monitor describes how the lessons following the Virginia Tech shootings, where 32 died, played a roll in the quick response of the Fort Hood police officers.

“The lesson from Virginia Tech was, don’t wait for backup but move to the target and eliminate the shooter,” says Chuck Medley, chief of Fort Hood’s emergency services. “It requires courage and it requires skill.”

These lessons learned were put into practice by police officer Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, who rushed to the scene as shots were still being fired and aggressively took down Hasan, even as they themselves were being fired upon. Other officers also arrived on the scene just seconds after, and all are credited for the caliber of their training and quick reaction.

We’ve also heard to stories of the medics in a graduation ceremony very near the Family Readiness Center, who instantly ran to the scene the moment they heard shots fired. This is the quality and character of our Army Soldiers, and something we need to be reminded of especially now. Rather than hesitating, rather than running away from the danger, they ran straight toward it and provided immediate attention to the wounded.

Those on the scene when shots were fired carried the more severely wounded to safety, and those with minor injuries assisted the severely wounded before considering themselves.

They’re the kinds of stories we expect on the battlefield, not at home, but the quick response from those there, at a moment when they weren’t thinking they would need to put their training into practice, speaks volumes to the caliber of character, strength of spirit and courage under pressure that we’ve come to expect from America’s Finest.

These are just surface details and anecdotal examples – as the details of the investigation continue to be released, I trust we will hear more of these stories, and be introduced to more heroes. In the meantime I hope we can stop and be reminded that even when tragedy brings us to our knees, our community will rally and stand tall. Few things are more true of our Army than our resilience under pressure. The Soldiers and first responders on the scene are a true example of this fact.