Active Shooter Exercise Targets Airmen's Real-World Readiness

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson
  • 125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Gun shots rang out as Staff Sgt. Michael Klausing, a Security Forces (SF) member acting as an active shooter walked the halls of the 125th Fighter Wing (125FW) at Jacksonville Airport. This was the first of a series of active shooter scenarios that the 125FW plans on conducting to evaluate and reinforce training for real world events.

"This was the small piece of the pie in the big picture of things" said Capt. Derrick Burks, the Anti-terrorism Officer for the wing. "It's going to get bigger".

At 8:30 a.m. Klausing exited a bathroom in the headquarters building of the 125FW, firing a training M16 rifle with blank rounds through the halls. Laura Yates, the director of the Family and Readiness Center whose office was across from the initial firing quickly locked her door and hid behind her desk. From there she called the base 911, which reported the incident to the SF squadron and other on-base emergency personnel.

"It really kind of hit home for me, more than I expected it to," Yates said.

The event lasted four minutes, and ended when SF Tech. Sgt. Andrew Pelton and SF Staff Sgt. Tony Camacho engaged the shooter and neutralized the simulated threat.
To make the experience more realistic, fake blood was placed on designated individuals to simulate three dead (one being the shooter) and seven injured in the event. Wing Inspection Team (WIT) members monitored the event and analyzed how individuals responded with the scenario. Their findings will be used to modify future training and prepare for possible incidents.

While medical members rushed to the scene to help with the wounded and deceased, command leadership and the public affairs department dealt with media and simulated family member inquiries on the incident. They must follow proper protocols as if this event had really happened, including holding a press conference where simulated media question the commander.

"I think the Wing took this seriously... and that behavior is contagious" said Burks, who put the event together.

Local civilian agencies, such as law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services aided the 125FW and used the opportunity to train their own personnel. Their participation in the event further added to the realism and authenticity of the training scenario.

The scenario went as planned and demonstrated how quickly such incidents can occur. The 125 FW has been trying new approaches to mandatory training, with the goal to reinforce information and conduct assessments by making exercises and training events as interactive and real as possible.

When real incidents occur, the natural "fight or flight" response kicks in. Instilling the correct actions is important to minimalize casualties. Through training like this, servicemembers are better equipped to react correctly during a real world situation.

"You make good decisions, you make bad decisions but the worst decision is no decision... we forced people to make decisions in a very timely manner, simulating if their life was on the line. I think the benefits to that type of exercise are absolutely priceless," Burks said.