MINGO JUNCTION - Mingo Junction based small business owner Frank Hoagland is a service disabled veteran who brings a highly distinguished 21-year long term of service as a Navy SEAL to any mission effort he selects or accepts.
Hoagland and his company, START - Special Tactics and Rescue Training, were contracted by Buckeye Local School District's leadership to conduct an all risk assessment and develop potentially mitigating solutions.
He knows how to get others' attention fixed on what he has to say - particularly when speaking as a mentor, teacher or advisor; and of late he has been particularly focused on sharing details of a unique program meant to provide educators and students opportunities to gain knowledge, an appropriate amount of confidence, and an improved ability to think more clearly in the face of emergency situations.
START?owner Frank Hoagland, a retired Navy SEAL with 21 years of service, discusses real world scenarios as a mock scenario assailant is pictured behind him.
Ever the consummate educator, Hoagland offers annacrynoms and brief explinations of his approach to improving family communication efforts.
"Look at this acronym as the ABC's for getting off the X and creating a Safe Distance," Hoagland suggested.
"You are in a public area and a crisis situation goes down. The first thing you want to do is make sure you focus on your Safety and Security.
The next thing you will have to do is communicate your intentions to family, friends or others??As you start you decision making process you will have to be Observent and Orientate to the direction your going to move.
As you are moving you need to report your condition, what you see and accountability. The last thing you will do is evacuate the premises. This means get off the "X".
So in a nut shell "Create Safe Distance, Get off the X".
Another Example. Your driving and a deer runs out in-front of your car. You have a passenger in a seat next to you not paying attention.
More often people will put an arm across the passenger, slam on the breaks, yell something, and swerve to miss the deer. All this happens quickly and if your not trained to handle a dangerous situation, more often people will cower into a fetal position and DIE. We don't want that option, therefore we created CAST (Counter Active Shooter Training).
The original program itself developed by Hoagland and his elite team of veterans and has been dubbed "CAST" or "Counter Active Shooter Training".
The point of "CAST" is to provide individuals with the basic experiences and skills to begin developing their personal capability to think more clearly and make improved decisions when facing an increasingly tense, dangerous or even violent situation.
Hoagland and his team members do not see school safety as being the sole responsibility of a school building's administrative team or a district's leadership team, but rather a concerted effort involving contributions and input from all sectors of the community in which a school is located.
"School safety is the job of the entire school and the community," according to Hoagland. "To make this happen requires leadership and a willingness to work in a well coordinated approach involving school administration, district personnel, local law enforcement, first responders and others."
Hoagland's distinctive stamp is on "CAST" as its developer provides virtually instant credibility in the eyes of just about anyone who has even the smallest inkling about wealth of knowledge and personal experiences this exceptional defender of our nation's freedoms the slightest idea as to Hoagland's background, skills and fixed forward focus.
"Developing, maintaining and exercising the uniquely customizable boilerplate structure of CAST only serves to allow it to continue to grow and adjust for changes in the always dynamic nature of a school community or school district," offered Bellaire resident Dinero Ciardelli, a recently retired service disabled veteran - combat Marine - whose multiple tours in Iraq and final tour of service into one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan, as saw him sustain seriously life threatening injuries.
Like Hoagland, an injury on the job cut short Ciardelli's active military career plans, and also like Hoagland, he has found another avenue through which to serve the citizens of this country - even the youngest and most innocent among us.
The development of this specialized program by Hoagland heads straight into the 2013 mandate from the State of Ohio requiring development and implementation of a comprehensive school safety plan addressing such things as school violence, terrorist threats, medical emergencies, hazardous materials, severe weather and natural disasters.
The geographic range of school district's with leadership teams about to sign contracts for customized CAST services is increasing rapidly, attesting to the perceived top quality nature of the unique product and its ability to serve a diverse market.
"The CAST program is built on the key concept that improving our abilities to assess existing risks enables contributors from all segments of a community to establish a well rounded emergency response capable of seeing a school's initial response to a situation grow and transition into an even broader response track from which to more successfully approach a critical incident in a school," offered Ciardelli.
"It is critical for school administrators and community members at all levels to see the CAST plan continuing to grow and be modified in order to get in front and stay out in front of any possible developing issues continuing to make it generate the best possible outcome for all involved.
"The best way to grasp the always shifting and adjusting nature of these policies and practices is to see them as a living document," offered Hoagland, an opinion he shared with the man who at one time was Commander of all our country's ultra elite Special Forces personnel, including Navy SEALS: Col. Sean Ryan of Fort Bragg, home to the Army's Special Forces personnel including Rangers and Green Berets.
During a recent phone conversation with Colonel Ryan about this dynamic living document developed by Hoagland he made clear his absolute endorsement of the retired Navy SEAL for, both his personal and professional capabilities, and in particular his highly sought after skills as an analytical thinker and solutions developer regardless the scope of an assigned task.
Hoagland's career highlights included his being selected by Naval Command level leaders to develop a program to help improve results and lessen dangers accompanying tasks involved in breaching difficult entries to buildings. Hoagland was also tasked with the responsibility of developing a like program for operators assigned to gaining entry to exceptionally challenging ships.
This two pronged instructional project quickly became one of the most highly sought after training opportunities among our nation's military and also among law enforcement personnel.
Col. Ryan was particularly complimentary to the leadership of the Buckeye Local School District for having the foresight to see the value in such a unique initiative that is CAST and of the entire assessment and recommendation development process.
Taking this analytical approach to risk assessment and developing options and recommendations to put in the hands of school district leaders is an excellent way to avoid the dangers that can come with knee-jerk responses to emergency situations.
The classic knee-jerk response is almost without fail going to be a poor choice to a developing crisis situation, according to Col. Ryan, and Hoagland..
A few weeks before Hoagland held a real-world exercise with simunition at the high school, Col. Ryan made himself available to speak via Skype for more than an hour with several of the district's principals during a meeting, and noted there is no other program being made available to schools such as is Hoagland's "All Hazards Risk Assessment" and the living document it generates, or the CAST product developed at START.
Colonel Ryan complimented the local school district leadership staff and teachers for their willingness to interact with each other during an initial "real life" simulation of an invasion of a building by an "active shooter".
Staff members found they gained a much better personal understanding of tactics that had been described to them by Hoagland and Ciardelli previously in discussions empowering them individually with guidance and practical levels of encouragement to be prepared to make every effort to maintain a sense of focus, to pay attention to details of your surroundings and to look for potential options that could help get a person - adult or student - successfully through a dangerous and even violent situation developing within the walls of a school building.
The point of initiating a simunition shooting scenario inside the building was to safely and securely provide personnel with specific experiences including what a gunshot sounds like going off inside a structure.
One participant likened the sound of a gun being fired (blanks) within the building to the sound generated when a textbook hits the floor.
At the end of the afternoon's simunition exercise at the high school conducted by Hoagland with the help of Wells Township Police Chief John Ingram, participants were pleased with having had such a unique experience having been made available and asked that additional experiences be developed and scheduled.
What's next on the educational curve being established for Buckeye Local as a district and the communities served by it in this year-long assessment and recommendation development effort.
"the next step is to take this discussion to a town meeting type format to get increased participation in the communications process from the people who live and work here - the families whose family members work in and around the school, who have traditionally been given free run of the buildings, and whose children are the most important assets we can protect," offered Hoagland.
On the public forum side of this project we need to get our friends and neighbors involved, increase general awareness of who is around a community and its schools, and we have to let people understand things need to change drastically when it comes to the traditionally casual way people enter our school buildings, and vehicles pass into our school grounds unchecked. That is going to stop. But to go along with that part of the process we really need to connect and communicate with the community.
"We need everyone to stop the chatter and start cooperating with what we have been telling the teachers about since we started this risk assessment and mitigation process for Buckeye Local Schools, " offered Hoagland.
Candidly Hoagland and Ciardelli noted there is no better sources of information than the observant eyes and ears of those who live and work in any given community.
Hoagland and Ciardelli are both dedicated to conducting their efforts to the highest degree of professionalism they can bring to the project, and professional effort being put forward for individual school systems, there is a deep sense of pride and ownership they take in these opportunities to help protect the children of the Ohio Valley and the environments in which they are being educated.
"The experience I gained in my eight year career in the Marines I was able to give back to my community helping to mitigate the dangers in our school system today. The team and I have now begun the process of giving our students and faculty a safe learning environment," shared Ciardelli.
Hoagland views with personal and professional pride the opportunity to work in this unique vein with an ever increasing array of school district leaders, staff and students and is pleased to be able to bring his exceptional military training home to help protect the most important assets of our nation: our children and environments in which they are being educated.
Kim Loccisano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org