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Schriever responds to exercise threats

Defenders with the 50th Security Forces Squadron prepare to enter a building during an active-shooter exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The scenario was a part of Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise that tests Team Schriever’s readiness to respond during crisis scenarios. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

Defenders with the 50th Security Forces Squadron prepare to enter a building during an active-shooter exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The scenario was a part of Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise that tests Team Schriever’s readiness to respond during crisis scenarios. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

Twenty-first Medical Squadron bioenvironmental engineers advance toward a contaminated area to test for chemical agents during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The Airmen remained fully suited throughout the exercise to practice as they’d respond real-world. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

Twenty-first Medical Squadron bioenvironmental engineers advance toward a contaminated area to test for chemical agents during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The Airmen remained fully suited throughout the exercise to practice as they’d respond real-world. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

First responders tend to a victim during a base exercise, Opinicus Vista 16-2, at Schriever Air Force Base Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Base personnel acted as victims during a tornado scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

First responders tend to a victim during a base exercise, Opinicus Vista 16-2, at Schriever Air Force Base Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Base personnel acted as victims during a tornado scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

First responders tend to victims and survey the damaged areas during a tornado exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The tornado was just one of the scenarios Schriever personnel responded to during the base-wide exercise June 6 – 16. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

First responders tend to victims and survey the damaged areas during a tornado exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. The tornado was just one of the scenarios Schriever personnel responded to during the base-wide exercise June 6 – 16. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

A 50th Security Forces Squadron defender tends to a victim during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Airmen played the part of victims to create realistic exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

A 50th Security Forces Squadron defender tends to a victim during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Airmen played the part of victims to create realistic exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

A protest actor engages 50th Security Forces Squadron defenders who stand at ready during a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Saturday, June 11, 2016. The exercise was designed to evaluate the base’s response to various incidents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Katie Calvert)

A protest actor engages 50th Security Forces Squadron defenders who stand at ready during a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Saturday, June 11, 2016. The exercise was designed to evaluate the base’s response to various incidents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Katie Calvert)

Wounded actors call out for help during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Simulated victims were vital to create realistic scenarios to test the readiness of first responders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Wounded actors call out for help during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Simulated victims were vital to create realistic scenarios to test the readiness of first responders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Tech. Sgt. Kelly Huntsman, 50th Security Forces Squadron, updates a base map to implement a cordon at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The squadron played a crucial role in implementing security measures during different phases of the exercise scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Tech. Sgt. Kelly Huntsman, 50th Security Forces Squadron, updates a base map to implement a cordon at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The squadron played a crucial role in implementing security measures during different phases of the exercise scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Scoggins, 50th Security Forces Squadron, responds to an active shooter scenario during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The 50th Space Wing Inspector General office managed the two-week exercise, which was designed to test the wing's responses to various emergency situations including natural disaster and active shooter. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Scoggins, 50th Security Forces Squadron, responds to an active shooter scenario during Opinicus Vista 16-2, a base exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The 50th Space Wing Inspector General office managed the two-week exercise, which was designed to test the wing's responses to various emergency situations including natural disaster and active shooter. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

Defenders rush down a staircase in response to a simulated active-shooter threat at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The squadron played an important role in implementing security measures during different phases of the two-week exercise. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)
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Defenders rush down a staircase in response to a simulated active-shooter threat at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 16, 2016. The squadron played an important role in implementing security measures during different phases of the two-week exercise. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Dennis Rogers)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Schriever Air Force Base members responded to tornado and active-shooter scenarios June 6 – 16, 2016, as part of Opinicus Vista 16-2, an installation exercise.

The 50th Space Wing Inspector General office led the planning and execution of the exercise and coordinated with wing inspection teams to test and observe units’ response actions.

“The whole purpose of this exercise was to take it to another level, where we want (our readiness level) to be now, as well as where we’re going,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremey Hazelwonder, wing exercise section chief.

The exercise began with intelligence reports that led to a string of lone-wolf attacks on U.S. military installations. The attacks served as a catalyst for Schriever and its units to raise security measures for potential events coming their way. The first situation 50th Security Forces Squadron met involved personnel trying to gain unlawful access to the base.

The defenders responded to the situation well, according to Hazelwonder.

Although this scenario was held on a sunny day, a few days later, the horizon turned heavily overcast with the next exercise inject – a tornado touchdown on Schriever.

The simulated tornado damaged fence lines, homes, vehicles, generators, power systems and other facilities.

“Tornados can happen out here, so we practice in preparation for real-word events. Given the complexity of the scenarios, responding units along with support functions all worked very well together to mitigate exercise damage to facilities with an emphasis on life safety. This was a very great experience for all the different support functions to coordinate efforts to resolve exercise scenario issues,” said Tracey Snyder, Schriever Fire Department assistant chief of training.

“The tornado scenario was a lot of things all combined into one. It had monumental moving parts, so we wanted to see how it all came together,” said Hazelwonder.

A natural disaster event, such as a tornado, calls for more hands on deck, as many agencies played crucial roles in responding.

“A lot of the exercises – especially short sprints, will only affect a small group, either the (Emergency Operations Center) or just the security forces. The tornado exercise included everyone. Civil engineering responded, security forces was responding and the (50th Force Support Squadron) played a huge part in finding houses for the (displaced) people,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Bowles, Inspector General Evaluation Management System administrator.

The simulated turmoil wasn’t over, as the final scenario was an active-shooter exercise. Testing Schriever and its tenants’ response was vital to IG’s inspection.

Bowles explained preparation for active-shooter situations are deeply woven into today’s readiness operations.

“It’s a huge emphasis in the (Department of Defense). It used to be something we practiced as an acknowledgement to its existence, but now, active-shooter (training) is mandated for all (military) installations. We have to keep practicing this because it can happen any day to any base,” he said.

The simulated active-shooter scenario included the presence of chemical agents as well as a potential bomb threat, prompting emergency response. Additional assistance for the exercise included the Ellicott Fire Department, Rocky Mountain Emergency Response and additional medical support.

According to Hazelwonder, the expanse of Schriever’s exercise operations has grown immensely throughout the last few years. Lou Fischer, 50 SW IG inspections director, explained the need for exercises is critical for Schriever to be ready for the future.

“Overall, we’ve showed drastic improvement from previous exercises, there was a definite improvement in sense of urgency from the base population. But there is always room for improvement, we can only get better through exercises. The more we practice, the better prepared we are for real-world events,” said Fischer. 

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