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Base exercise tests response, reaction to shooting threat
A 42nd Security Forces member escorts building occupants from the Holm Center to safety during the active shooter exercise.(Air Force photo/Jamie Pitcher)
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Base exercise tests response, reaction to shooting threat

Posted 6/8/2010   Updated 6/8/2010 Email story   Print story


by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs

6/8/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- In the wake of last year's Fort Hood shooting disaster, Maxwell-Gunter conducted a basewide, everyone plays, exercise May 26 that involved an active shooter on Maxwell.

Gary Looney, base Exercise Evaluation Team chief, said he and the 42nd Air Base Wing leadership were "very pleased" with the outcome.

"The reaction to the active shooter exercise looked good in terms of how the base population at large responded and took appropriate action to the exercise scenario," he said. "Even the elementary school was involved. When we said base population at large, we meant everybody."

Mr. Looney said base first responders were tested in their handling of the situation, which involved mass casualties, followed by a Force Protection Condition change. The base warning systems, to include the Giant Voice announcement system and telephone and computer notification systems, were also tested. He said the second, more limited exercise, occurred Tuesday.

Mr. Looney said a couple of areas need improvement after the May 26 exercise. Personnel needed to lock and barricade doors and wait for the all-clear message before leaving their areas, but there was some movement within buildings observed from the outside. Mr. Looney reminds everyone that movement could make those people the shooter's next target.

He said accountability went fairly smoothly, and one way to improve that is to designate certain individuals to account for co-workers in their immediate areas. That way, a quick count among the designated individuals can be taken instead of having to involve an entire office population for total accountability.

"One very positive thing I saw after the 'all-clear' was given at the shooting site was a lot of self-aid-buddy-care being administered to exercise players who were simulating being wounded," he said. "That reinforces the wingman concept and spirit."

Mr. Looney asked that all base members involved in the exercise offer feedback through their leadership regarding the warning systems, especially the Giant Voice.

"I would like to hear from the base populace as to whether they could hear and understand the Giant Voice, or did it sound like a bad Hardee's commercial," he said. "That is to include people in the housing areas, organization buildings and common areas such as the base exchange and commissary."

Mr. Looney said as was agreed upon before the exercise, only the normal emergency agencies, such as the Crisis Action Team, command post and first responders, were graded on this exercise. The base populace was not graded but in future exercises may be.

He said all emergency agencies did well with one organization receiving an outstanding rating while another received an excellent.

"By Maxwell-Gunter leaning forward and conducting three annual active shooter exercises prior to this one, we were able to satisfactorily conduct this exercise," he said. "We still have some areas that need improvement, but I feel we are much farther down the road than most AETC installations in terms of reacting to this situation."

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