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Exercise evaluates base’s active-shooter response

Columbine High School, Aurora movie theater, Sandy Hook and Pulse. These are just a few names that have become synonymous with some of the worst active-shooter incidents in the United States.

As secure and safe as they may seem, military installations are also not immune to these types of incidents as active shooter instances have happened at Washington Navy Yard, Fairchild Air Force Base and Fort Hood.

“In active-shooter situations, seconds matter. Knowing what to do and when to do it is crucial,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremey Hazelwonder, 50th Space Wing Inspector General wing exercises section chief.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, active-shooter incidents are unpredictable and may evolve rapidly; they are often over within 10 to 15 minutes.

Because of the real threat active shooters pose anywhere and anytime, the 50th Space Wing commander has mandated the IG office conduct monthly short-sprint exercises to ensure Team Schriever members are prepared to respond to such situations. The IG team began leading these exercises in February with the objective of hitting every Schriever facility in two years’ time.

“The goal is to ensure the base is adequately trained on how to respond,” said Lou Fischer, 50 SW Inspector General director of inspections.

This means service members, civilians, contractors and dependents must know the appropriate actions during active-shooter incidents. The exercise is also designed to evaluate the 50th Security Forces Squadron’s response.

During active-shooter incidents, individuals have four actions to follow.

“First thing is to evacuate. Leave everything behind,” explained Master Sgt. William Proctor, 50 SFS NCO in charge of training. “The next step is to evade. Try to hide if you can’t leave. Barricade yourself in a secure area. Lock your door and stay out of sight. If you have a cellphone, put it in silent mode.”

During these two actions, individuals must call 911, provide the location and description of the shooter as well as the type of weapons and if there are any injured or killed personnel.

If all else fails, individuals must fight the perpetrator.

“Be aggressive. Throw everything at the shooter. Use anything as a weapon,” Proctor said.

The last thing individuals must do is to comply with law enforcement; remain calm and follow their instructions, he explained. 

Although not every Schriever member knows the necessary actions, the exercises allow the IG to see which facilities need more training. Additionally, it gives leadership of each facility the opportunity to observe their subordinate’s responses and provide feedback as they see fit.

“I think this is a win-win for the base,” Fischer said. “This is about getting people to think about active shooter, to come up with a plan as to how they would respond, give them the opportunity to execute that plan and provide them training feedback immediately after the event.” 

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