News: Active shooter training exercise has purpose and focus
Story by Capt. Tania Donovan
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - There are things that every Soldier knows to do in case of an active shooter situation. The "Coping with an Active Shooter" guidance that is provided by Army One Source highlights the words, "Evacuate," "Hide," and "Take Action."
The 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division recently took the concept of how to react to an active shooter to a whole new level. There is currently computer-based training for Soldiers but live active shooter training is taking on a new meaning.
"The objective of the training was to generate a believable scenario, originating from the local community, and then assess our battalion's ability to respond during an active shooter event," said Capt. Aaron Devig, operations officer, 5-5 ADA Battalion, 17th FA Brigade.
The training included reacting to the active shooter, taking steps to ensure survival and offered smaller scenarios, like treating wounds on casualties resulting from the active shooter scenario.
"Soldiers had to assess and treat them appropriately after reaching safe areas away from the shooter," said Devig.
Training for a sensitive event like this doesn't end after the execution of the exercise for the 5-5 ADA battalion. At the conclusion of the exercise, the battalion leadership agreed that the battalion standard operating procedures should be expanded to include utilization of the battalion's public announcement system in order to better facilitate communication flow during such an event.
“Given the recent tragedies of not only Fort Hood, but also the events across the country over the last several years, these types of training events should occur at least annually,” said Maj. Kevin P. Stonerook, operations officer, 5-5 ADA Battalion, 17th FA Brigade.
“A true-to-life scenario gives Soldiers an opportunity to truly feel what it might be like and to assess their responses,” said Stonerook.
More than 270 Soldiers participated in the training exercise.
Another developmental aspect of this training exercise was that it offered opportunities for noncommissioned officers and other junior leaders to take charge. Junior leaders oversaw the triage and gave clear and concise orders without being prompted or told what to do.
"This was an opportunity for Soldiers to take a real-world situation and utilize training to develop a response appropriate to an event like this," said Lt. Col. Bradley J. Herman Jr., battalion commander, 5-5 ADA Battalion, 17th FA Brigade.
"Given the many unknowns in such an incident, the Soldiers did a great job of assessing the situation and acting accordingly," said Herman.