Alamo Wing Participates in Joint Active Shooter Exercise
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — For some 433rd Airlift Wing members, it wasn’t just another weekend of computer-based training, but a flashback to a real world incident which occurred just a year ago while on a stateside deployment.
The 433rd Medical Group, 433rd Security Forces Squadron, and Department of Homeland Security took part in an active shooter exercise involving 60 Reservists at Kelly Field Annex, Port San Antonio April 11.
The exercise included the proper protocol to follow when engaging an Ebola patient.
The scenario began with a disgruntled Airman, portrayed by one of the instructors, who entered the hanger, yelling and firing his simulated automatic training weapon at the group. Airmen fell to the ground; face down on the hangar floor, as two of their team members were killed by the suspect.
“They (the participants) thought they were just going to come in and do some videos, litter training, and medical readiness training,” Lt. Col. Sylvia Fernandez, 433rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, said. “The active shooter comes in and puts a whole different twist to it. It was an element of surprise. We wanted to see if they (the participants) would follow the 911 checklist for an active shooter. That was the intent of this exercise,” she said.
After the shooting, it was discovered that the shooter then suffered an unknown illness, and the participants had to administer medical aid to him.
When the exercise ended, members were asked to critique themselves, and listened to what they did right and wrong according to special agents from Homeland Security.
With the medical group’s location on the Kelly Field Annex side at Port San Antonio, which belongs to the city, was vital that civilian law enforcement to observe and share their experiences. “They are going to be able to show them what can happen from the civilian law enforcement side,” Fernandez said.
The agent, who asked not to be named to protect his identity, stressed to the participants to keep moving if a real shooter had been in the hangar.
“Did anyone think about trying to take down the shooter,” he asked. “Avoid, deny and defend,” he stressed to the Airmen. He also told them to “Stay away from walls.”
For some, exercises like this are something that was at one time, the real thing.
After the shooter exercise, medical personnel shared the protocols they follow in their civilian health care jobs, as they were presented with a table top scenario for an Ebola infected patient entering their military hospital.
“With the Ebola, we taught them (the 433rd members) how to be aware of certain events, the symptoms and how to don the proper equipment,” Fernandez said.
Health care providers, medical technicians, and nurses took part in a table top discussion on a scenario involving the deadly disease. After the discussion and exercise, “They are all going to be able to provide their own opinions based on their experiences,” said Fernandez, 433rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, said
“This training is valuable,” said Senior Airman Rebekah Sherwood, a 433rd Medical Squadron technician. Sherwood was in annual tour status at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada last year when a person armed with a handgun threatened to harm himself in the parking lot outside of the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center in Las Vegas.
“Realistically, we should go through scenarios like this, but it’s not always going to be the same scenario every time,” Sherwood said. The incident ended with the suspect taken into custody after a nearly six-hour standoff with Las Vegas Metro police.
“I feel that if people had more realistic training, they would know what to do. People were running back and forth from room to room. Nobody knew the codes that were going out over the intercom,” she said of the incident in Las Vegas.
By Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Published April 15, 2015
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