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IG prepares Team Schriever

C. Donatell and M. Miller, both El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics deputies, clear a building during an active shooter exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Opinicus Vista 17-2, which ran May 30-June 8, is Schriever’s largest exercise of the year and coordinated efforts between Schriever Air Force Base and local area first responders to engage a wildfire and active shooter with a hostage scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

C. Donatell and M. Miller, both El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics deputies, clear a building during an active shooter exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Opinicus Vista 17-2, which ran May 30-June 8, is Schriever’s largest exercise of the year and coordinated efforts between Schriever Air Force Base and local area first responders to engage a wildfire and active shooter with a hostage scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Senior Airman Bryce Sharon, 50th Security Forces Squadron responder, stays prepared to engage any threats during the base’s largest exercise of the year, Opinicus Vista 17-2, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. The exercise ran May 30-June 8, 2017, and tested the wing’s ability to respond to a natural disaster and an active shooter with a hostage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Senior Airman Bryce Sharon, 50th Security Forces Squadron responder, stays prepared to engage any threats during the base’s largest exercise of the year, Opinicus Vista 17-2, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. The exercise ran May 30-June 8, 2017, and tested the wing’s ability to respond to a natural disaster and an active shooter with a hostage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Following disasters, witnesses often report numerous victim deaths and injuries that could have been avoided if the victims had utilized reasonable escape options. In most cases, these victims freeze, preventing them from taking appropriate actions in the pivotal moments during an emergency. 

The Air Force Tactics, Techniques and Procedures explains this phenomenon as a cognitive limitation a person experiences when they try to reason through their options under intense pressure. This mental lapse causes victims to lose valuable time to get to safety. The use of disaster or survival training provides people with a set plan, so if the time comes they are more likely to act quickly and appropriately.

Every month, the 50th Inspector General office facilitates active shooter drills, called “short sprints,” to evaluate the wing’s preparedness in the case of an active shooter situation. Short sprints are conducted in randomly selected buildings throughout the base. The purpose of these drills is not only to evaluate readiness, but also give individuals on Schriever an opportunity to practice their training in a more realistic setting. 

When these exercises are conducted, it is expected they are treated realistically to make the training worthwhile. In the exercise, gun shots are simulated by a whistle accompanied by IG personnel yelling “exercise, exercise, exercise, active shooter.” This is the cue for personnel in the vicinity to evaluate their options accordingly, using the Escape, Barricade, Fight Method and commit to the option they deem necessary to survive. 

When you hear simulated gun shots in the distance, escape is the best option. Try to find the nearest exit and distance yourself from the sound of the shots. If you cannot escape, it is appropriate to lock doors, barricade entrances, close blinds, and turn off lights. If face to face with the shooter and the only option is fight, then make your intentions clear to exercise instructors, who will be wearing black vests. 

To avoid injuries, fighting should only be explained or simulated without making contact with the shooter. 

Treating it realistically also means placing a 911 call on a base landline (prefaced with exercise, exercise, exercise) if in a position to do so safely. Placing a 911 call from the base landline allows the base to test communication between responding agencies, and ensures processes are set up to successfully deal with emergency situations.

It is important to note safety is the top priority during any exercise conducted on base. Carry out every action as if the scenario is real. However, at no point should anyone’s safety be threatened, and no contact should be made with the shooter with the exception of emergency responders. 
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