News: Active shooter exercise boosts Air Station readiness
Story by Cpl. Brady Wood
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. - An active shooter exercise was held at the Middleton S. Elliot Elementary School aboard Laurel Bay, March 4.
The purpose of the exercise was to improve safety and response time in the event of an active shooter at Department of Defense schools.
As the shooters walked into the school, they were immediately confronted by a civilian police officer who was posted as the school safety officer and is on call in case of an emergency at any of the Laurel Bay schools.
As the shooters moved throughout the school, role players scurried into classrooms to escape detection. During the scenario, a fog machine was activated by an exercise controller in order to simulate the use of an incendiary device.
Marines from the Provost Marshal’s Office arrived on the scene promptly to take down the shooters and a special response team was on their heels to check every room for wounded role players and additional shooters.
“I felt as though the exercise was very [smooth] and went really well,” said Cpl. Matthew Rentfro, a military police officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “It was a clear and concise production of what military police can handle and what we can do as a unit.”
The response time of first responders is very important to ensure the safety of those involved in the incident.
“It’s good to get out and work with other agencies and practice inter-operability,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse McGinnis, the officer-in-charge of Explosive Ordnance Disposal. “It’s great to see how all the people work, so that we can best support them when needed. The last thing we want to do is find out last minute what everyone is supposed to do the moment a real-life incident takes place.”
One of the exercise controllers said discussing response plans is important, but a real exercise is key to ensuring the preparedness of emergency personnel.
“This exercise was meant to standardize the necessary procedures to respond to an active shooter,” said Henry Gregorich, a civilian with the security, safety and anti-terrorism office for the DoD schools. “No matter how much you concentrate on making your plans, there’s nothing better than being able to see it come together first-hand and allow the teachers to see that the plans we put in place actually work.”
The exercise allowed the improvement of standardized procedures for the first responders while the school staff members were able to see first-hand who would respond and how the situation would be handled.
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort personnel train frequently to ensure they are ready to respond to any threat.