“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Close calls.

Unlike many traditional stories, this one won't start with "once upon a time," or "we were drinking and," or even "no shit, there I was." Instead, I'll just relay bits from yesterday's fun.

We were running the Academy recruits through a tactical stress course day. It's one of the last things we do in the Academy - basically bringing together all the shooting skills from their prior training, along with decision making, physical exertion, and as much stress as we can put them under - trying to replicate to at least a fraction what a real-life situation may be like to them. Obviously, given the live ammo and stress we keep a very close eye on them for the safety of everyone involved.

This Academy has one recruit who has been an issue the entire time. No firearms skills, folds under the slightest bit of stress to include crying and just locking up, poor officer safety, and just a general lack of effort to fix these problems. To the point of several memos are already in the chain of command addressing whether she needs to continue being here or not - but this is always a big fight, as the upper staff wants to give them a chance and attempt to fill the holes we have in our manning.

Well, she gets to my station yesterday - the second in the series of 7 - and she's already losing it I can see. The drill involved loading a shotgun and engaging various targets at a short range - just combining basic weapon functions with some situational awareness under stress. And she is completely lost - can't figure out what to do, can't load the weapon, can't function it, and every second is just getting worse as we continue to stress her. It finally reaches the point of two of us stop yelling at her and are trying to at least walk her through the simple bits to do anything here, when she has a bit of an incident - while putting a round in the chamber she's swinging the shotgun around, and just as I'm able to block it from swinging further she has her finger on the trigger and fires it unintentionally.

Fortunately we had the close eye on her, and I had caught things in time - I missed being hit in the leg by about 12" as the shot hit the ground ten feet in front of us. No one was injured, and we quickly let her know that she needed to get her head at least partially working very quickly. Unfortunately, her performance stayed at about the same level the rest of the course.

The results of all of it? The class as a whole got a significant re-lecturing on the importance of the four safety rules, and why we stress them from day one. A few of them may have learned some new words in the specific moment as I emphasized my point. I got to write a lengthy memo on the situation, which from what I'm told is pretty much the final straw into her packing her bags next week & being gone before she does hurt someone.

It also gave me something to think about last night as I was discussing it at home - in that, while I have nice first aid stuff on my vests I use for bomb calls and tactical stuff, and a good first aid kit in the back of the truck, I don't carry anything with me when I'm on the line teaching at the range. Where I was is about 100 yards from where I was parked - and no first aid stuff was any closer. Had I taken the round at basically contact distance it could have made a difference - so I'll be acquiring one or two things and keeping them on myself when I'm teaching like this, just in case. Like everything else we do to prepare - I may never need it, but it's better to carry it and not need it than the other alternative.

Stay safe out there.


Unknown said...

Some have it, most don't. I feel a bit sorry for the girl - a lifetime of being told she can do anything, and she just found out the hard way, that no she can't.

I hope that her failure to meet standards has been meticulously documented, and I hope for her sake that she learned something from this experience - she was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity.

Old NFO said...

Glad you were paying 'attention'... And when I'm on the line at ANY distance from my truck, my first aid kit is sitting behind the line. Thankfully, never had to use it!!!

GunDiva said...

She was allowed to complete?

I'm glad that you were able to avoid a disaster, but I'm stunned that she wasn't immediately escorted out with a boot in her ass (though I'm sure that would have been your preference, too). If a negligent discharge isn't cause for dismissal, what is?

Captain Tightpants said...

Gun Diva - I was debating that option trust me, but a quick decision was made to let her continue it with as much oversite as possible, so as to ensure we'd fully documented everything and it didn't turn into a Human Resources "She wasn't given the same chance everyone else was." Terminating people tends to be rather a nightmare around here of ensuring all the i's dotted & t's crossed.

Thanks for the well wishes all.

GunDiva said...

Please, please, please don't allow her out on our streets. I know you're documenting everything and she's probably the type to sue over something stupid, but women like her give all of us a bad name.

Chad said...

Most of our shooting is at an indoor range anymore, so they're fully kitted out for first aid, although I still bring burn cream just in case. In my outdoor range back though, I definitely keep a larger kit. Not enough to treat a GSW but enough to hopefully handle anything smaller.

Jeff said...

Very glad everyone is OK. Wise words sir when it comes to the Med Kit. I guess everything in life has a lesson to teach.

Jon said...

Oy. NDs always make me jumpy as an RSO.

I've got a good little story about piss poor gun handling to provide though - that didn't end in an ND, mostly because of forethought on the part of the people acting as Range Safety Officers at the time.

Three of us, one NRA trained RSO (Me) One Range certified Army reserve Staff Sergeant and our third the land/range owner and fellow firearms enthusiast. We were bringing out two guys who'd never shot before and were going to give them a chance to shoot a rather wide variety of pistols, rifles and shotguns. Because shooting is fun.

We gave both of our shooters a very in depth and direct explaination of the 4 rules, why we're going to follow them like no one's business, and how we were going to make sure everyone was clear on how to clear any firearm we have them handle - etc.

We had a good time, generally. We were watching them like hawks the whole time - whenever someone was shooting one of the three of us was up with them making sure the gun stayed down range and were on hand to help with malfunctions (which we didn't have.)

We had a 'down range area'

and we had a 'off to the side' area where we could still safetly handle a weapon and show the on deck shooter how to handle the various controls. We did the 'on deck' with double checked cleared guns but still (because gun safety says you do, and if you miss something you don't want to be sorry) enforced the rules like hawks. Everything was going nice and smooth.

Til I took my eyes off one of our shooters for five seconds.

I'd dropped the dust cover for a PMAG for my AR15. Our non-shooter was getting a feel for my AR15 before going up to shoot it. We had a nice berm to the side that worked as a safe direction to point the firearm. In the 5 seconds it took me to bend down and pick up the PMAG dust cover, the new shooter has pivoted ninty degrees and for no reason I was ever able to get out of him, was pointing his fire arm at the back of the shooter on the hot line.

The words out of my mouth don't need repeating but they were caustic, as I armbarred the muzzle of my rifle out of line and down and gave him a rather harsh tongue lashing.

Neither of them did anything nearly so stupid again, the gun was cold, but that was no excuse as I had to re-iterate two or three times. But man - it just re-enforced that you can tell a person once or a hundred times, but until they suck them into their own skull, understand it, and live it, bad things can happen.

Gladorn said...

If that incident occurred at my academy... Well, I'd really not do much because such incompetence would get them quickly promoted to my next Sergeant/Lieutenant/Captain. Why burn bridges early? /facepalm