IG conducts first-ever active-shooter-exercise in CDC
By Staff Sgt. Wes Wright, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 14, 2017
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 50th Space Wing Inspector General’s office conducted the first-ever active shooter exercise in the Schriever Air Force Base Child Development Center Thursday, Feb. 9.
While the CDC routinely participates in base-wide active shooter scenarios, the exercise marked the first time an “active shooter” entered the facility.
As the lead planning agency for base exercises, the 50th Space Wing Inspector General’s office took special care and precautions with this active shooter scenario.
“The CDC is different from any building on the base due the presence of children,” said Capt. Valencia Gore, 50 SW IG inspection program lead. “We wanted to be sensitive to that. We worked with security forces, CDC staff and 50th Force Support Squadron leadership to make sure we knew what could and couldn’t be done. It’s not different in how we conduct an active-shooter exercise, but we did add a layer of sensitivity to it.”
During the exercise, an “active shooter” entered the building followed closely by a cadre of IG, antiterrorism and safety personnel who evaluated the staff actions.
Gore lauded the CDC front desk for their actions, which were critical to keeping everyone safe.
“One of the things the staff did well was make sure they alerted the rest of the facility,” Gore said. “That helped with facilitating everyone getting to a safe place quickly. They did a great job. At times, we couldn’t even tell there were children in the facility. As the shooter made his way through, there were no children in the halls. It was quite impressive.”
According to Vicki Rygiel, 50 FSS school age care program coordinator, the commendable reaction from staff was the result of extensive training.
“Everyone locked down within seconds,” Rygiel said. “It went extremely quickly and efficiently. We have highly trained men and women who are caregivers. We continuously practice and update our drills.”
While CDC staff members executed their responsibilities, their actions bought time for 50th Security Forces Squadron Airmen to do theirs. Defenders were on scene within minutes and terminated the threat.
“The security forces response was exactly what we’ve come to expect: quick, precise and efficient,” Gore said. “The actions of the first responders are critical to the preservation of life and safety.”
For responding defenders, active-shooter exercises allow them to hone their skills in a high stress and high threat environment.
“We gain valuable training by working on our incident command and response techniques,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Stephenson, 50 SFS NCO in charge of operations. “These short sprint exercises allow us to train in the actual buildings we would respond to, not just an established training facility. These are well-planned and executed training events that are tailored for worst case. These exercises are also geared toward the base populace response and validate internal training procedures within the wing. Within the climate we currently operate in, everyone needs to understand and practice responding to an active shooter event so it becomes second nature.”
Short sprint exercises are condensed versions of regular exercises designed to test critical infrastructure and first responders.
Many of those involved in the planning and execution of the exercise noted the particular importance and resonation of protecting children.
“From a security forces standpoint, our primary mission here at Schriever is the safety and security of the 50 SW and its various vital resources to include mission partners,” Stephenson said. “This security mission includes the most valuable resources of them all--our Airmen and their families.”
Gore said the current state of the world makes exercises like these all the more important.
“Children are an easy target just by nature of their age and the potential difficulty of corralling all of them into a safe area,” Gore said. “Anytime you hear a story where children were hurt, that pulls at your heart. I put my nieces and godchildren in their shoes and I would want to know they are prepared. Hats off to the CDC to make sure they safeguard the kids.”