902nd security forces members apprehend the suspected active shooter during the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph active shooter exercise Sept. 17 and 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Don Lindsey) (Photo by Don Lindsey)
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
The actions taken to ensure the safety of Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph members, including the Giant Voice, are examples of timely measures the military takes in response to active shooter incidents.
In preparation, Randolph held a mandated active shooter exercise Sept. 17 and 18 to simulate what it would be like if an individual or group used weaponry in an attempt to cause harm to others.
While information about the active shooter response process compiled by the 502nd Air Base Wing Force Protection Office does not change, active shooter exercises conducted on a military installation are anything but routine; they present opportunities for enhancement, Henry King, 502nd ABW Exercises and Inspections chief, said.
"As with most exercises, we have identified several areas in which we can improve," he said.
Communications and notifications were two operations that could be tweaked, King said.
However, strengths from the exercise included initial response, next-of-kin notification and casualty affairs, King said.
The exercise also provided invaluable training for Randolph's fire department and its supervisors to prepare for a real-time incident.
"Exercises permit supervisors the opportunity to place trainees in controlled situations where they can apply newly learned skills," Mark Ledford, 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief and incident commander, said. "Table top or practical exercises can be scripted in ways only limited by imagination and tailored to match any mission requirements.
"Having the ability to practice, before faced with a real world situation, is absolutely essential to the development of firefighters at all levels."
Randolph's security forces - who King said quickly responded to prevent the simulated active shooter from "harming" others after the exercise began - were also vital participants in keeping the base safe.
"At the tactical level, it enables my team to build confidence in their training and abilities, which is a critical component to ensuring their successful execution of tactics and inoculating them to stressors they may confront," Maj. Gregory Bodenstein, 902nd Security Forces Squadron commander, said.
After the simulated active shooter was apprehended, a "hot wash" was set up after the lockdown for quality assurance as prescribed by the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program.
"An exercise player hot wash is a facilitated discussion which allows players to engage in a self-assessment of their exercise play and provides a general assessment of how the entity performed in the exercise," King said.
The simulated active shooter event primed Randolph's leaders to better prepare for the unknown.
"Training exercises afford me the opportunity to determine whether my unit has the proper capabilities to deal with the challenges we may face, assess capability shortfalls and determine whether to mitigate the shortfall with equipment, policy and/or training," Bodenstein said.