News: Active shooter exercise tests Eielson’s awareness
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska - Members of the 354th Medical Group were challenged in their capability to respond to an active shooter during an exercise here May 23.
Master Sgt. Allison Weeks, 354th Medical Operations Squadron mental health flight chief, said the purpose of the exercise was to test the duress system of the medical clinic to ensure medical personnel know how to handle a situation.
"It's not just another brochure that comes out that you stick up on the wall and hope that you don't have to do," said Weeks. "People need to actually be aware and know there's a reason we're sending this information out so they know what to do prior to an event."
In Department of Defense history, two active shooter incidents have involved mental health departments, Weeks said. For this reason, it is important to understand proper procedures and constantly be alert.
Although the exercise fills an annual mental health requirement, it also serves as a way to test security forces' response, said Staff Sgt. Daryl Ables, 354th Security Forces Squadron security forces training instructor.
"It's something that we're constantly training for," said Ables. "It's always good to be ready before something happens ... so if an event does actually occur, we're ready for it as opposed to a backlash, which has happened in the past."
While active shooter incidents are rare, the threat is real. Combining that with a duress situation makes for a hectic situation, said Ables.
"[A real world event] is going to be a lot more chaotic than we can make it, but when we respond to a duress call, it's a completely different procedure than when we respond to an active shooter," he said. "So if we tie those two together, we definitely see a different product. The key thing we always need to keep in mind is that neutralizing the threat is the most important factor."
Capt. Melodie Cross, 354th Medical Support Squadron Tricare operations and patient administration flight commander, complimented the response of both mental health staff and security forces. Exercises like this enable joint responders to coordinate in order to prevent a threat from happening in the first place.
"It's very beneficial for us to be able to get together and see how we work together," Cross said. "[We were able to figure out] where some disconnects could be so that we can get it worked out. If this ever actually occurs, we're prepared."
Date Posted:05.31.2012 18:17
Location:EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, AK, US
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