What if the lights went out for 2 weeks in Omaha like they have on the east coast? An Omaha company has made it their mission to teach how to get by. They’ve created a course that simulates disaster situations that could and have happened.
With bullets flying and gas masks on…it's hard to feel like you're in class. But that's what the Aftermath Series offered by 88 Tactical is.
An actual classroom is where 88 Tactical starts their weekend long training course, but quickly, the classroom moves outside, and out of Omaha.
The ten of us students loaded up into a van in Omaha and headed to the training facility in Tekamah.
While on the way out there, the radio began to cut out and the emergency alert tones sounded. A pandemic virus outbreak was affecting the metro Omaha area and we needed to get out of town.
Everyone in the class was given a gas mask to protect them until they are driven to the secure location. 88 Tactical teaches sometimes the shortest route to get to long term safety is to get out of town.
Once we were let in the gate to the rural Tekamah acreage, we were taken down into a bunker. The bunker had steep stairs, but once inside, it had all the comforts of home. A couch, sink, fridge and bathroom, complete with shower.
After we were settled, more classes on how to move as a group throughout a potentially hostile area. We learned how to gather dry grass and wood for building a fire.
Meal time consisted of dehydrated pasta meals. They have a shelf life of around 10 years. Signal 88 recommends stocking a month’s worth of food in case of an emergency.
We learned how to build and light fires, along with first aid techniques.
Throughout the training, instructors gave survival tips that would be useful for any emergency situation.
Like filling up a bathtub before a big storm or disaster is expected to use as a water supply. The water heater also has gallons that could be drained out. They say to keep around a month’s worth of food stocked and fill the family vehicle up with gas at the first hint of danger or emergency.
Keep enough cash to get by, they recommend around $100 dollars. And they say, when your roughing it out in the woods, wool fabric is best. It’s the most fire proof and warmest.
We were also taught basic shooting and ways to protect ourselves through simulated high stress scenarios created by 88 Tactical instructors.
"We try to mimic that as best as possible so that we can get people adrenalized and then teach them how to prevail, how to succeed through chaos," said 88 Tactical owner, Shea Degan.
An instructor guides the learning every step of the way, each of them, a real life expert with specific skills. The team is made up of former and current law enforcement from local agencies, a former green beret, a military medic and others who have a specific skill set that helps aid in teaching survival techniques.
The sink or swim instruction goes over well. “I’m learning a lot about teamwork and leadership,” said Christine Hansen as she stood guard at a window during an exercise.
“If now we were able to encounter this in real life, we'd be more likely to respond,” said Matt Strickler and Dave Grosz after a simulation where they pulled a man out from under a log.
Even when we thought the simulated survival situations were over, shots rang out at the gun range when we were practicing shooting basics.
The mock accidental shooting could happen and has in the past. Once the shots rang out, and the “victim” started to scream, class members rushed over to apply a tourniquet and help out. The exercise drove the point home that skills can be critical at a seconds notice.
"What people don't understand is that it's not hokey apocalyptic type training. This is a kind of training that we offer that will assist people in surviving any number of events," said Degan.
Degan, a former Douglas County Sheriff’s K9 deputy, hopes that at the end of it all, the confidence is instilled should anything ever happen.
Instructors believe that in this day and age, Americans have put themselves at a disadvantage with technology and that it is their duty to re-teach the basics that have been used in survival for years.
Degan has seen all types of people take his class, from the person wanting to know basic survival skills to the real adventure seekers.
The class was 2 days and one night, but they also offer 3 and 5 day courses.
Along with the Aftermath courses, 88 Tactical offers handgun courses, anti-bullying and anti-abduction, rifle, self-defense, open range and edged weapons.
Cost for classes ranges from a little over $100 to $1800.
Courses for law enforcement and military are also offered by 88 Tactical.