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JBSA, AETC collaboration leads to plans for more individualized active shooter training

Active shooter training exercise at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter.

Mr. John Morris, Director Commander’s Action Group, 502nd Air Base Wing, and Mrs. Kathleen Salazar, Community Relations for the 502nd Air Base Wing, attempt to escape after hearing simulated gun fire in their office during an active shooter exercise at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Nov. 18, 2020. The exercise is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Jose A. Torres Jr.)

Active shooter training exercise at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter.

Members of the 502nd Air Base Wing barricade a door after hearing simulated gun fire during an active shooter exercise at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Nov. 18, 2020. The exercise is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves if such an event were to happen in real life. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Jose A. Torres Jr.)

Active shooter training exercise at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter.

Ms. Maxie Tirella, Chief, Government Relations, 502nd Air Base wing runs to the door after hearing simulated gun fire during an active shooter exercise at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Nov. 18, 2020. The exercise is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves if such an event were to happen in real life. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Jose A. Torres Jr.)

Active shooter training exercise at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter.

Mr. Robert “Bob” Vickers from the 502nd Security Forces Group, 502nd Air Base Wing (ABW), teaches an Active Shooter class to members of the 502nd ABW at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The training is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Jose A. Torres Jr.)

Active shooter training exercise at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter.

U.S. Air Force Brig Gen. Caroline Miller Commander of the 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio, and her staff listen to Mr. Robert “Bob” Vickers, from the 502nd Security Forces group, during an Active Shooter Training class at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Nov. 18, 2020. The training is conducted to educate the unit’s personnel how to better defend themselves against an active shooter. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Jose A. Torres Jr.)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – In collaboration with the Air Education and Training Command, members from the 502nd Air Base Wing are transforming active shooter training at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

“The goal is to build upon the existing Air Force active gunman emergency management training to better prepare everyone on base to defend themselves against an active shooter,” said Col. Masoner, 502nd Security Forces Group commander.

Active shooter training outside of a security forces squadron typically involves briefings provided by defenders at unit commander’s calls.  Base exercises are usually narrowly focused on a single “play facility”, with limited participation.   

“Defenders exercise team movement, building approaches and formations, and practice training for events that include shooting victims and hostage situations,” said Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Fleming, 502nd Security Forces Group superintendent. “While this is vital training for defenders, everyone else on base needs training to prepare for events within their individual work environments.”

The goal of the collaborative effort between Security Forces and AETC is to provide hands-on training to people and offer practical tips specific to their work centers. After receiving in-depth training by defenders, unit representatives create a localized plan and then train members of their organization with hands-on response actions to demonstrate understanding and ability to execute.

“We must start thinking about active shooter training differently,” said Col. Leonard Rose, AETC Security Forces chief. “It is our job as leaders to prepare everyone to react to a situation like this, not just the defenders and members who happen to participate in a base-wide exercise. Utilizing this localized training approach allows us to train 90 percent of people where they spend 90 percent of their time. It will prepare people to react within their work environment and provides teams an opportunity to rehearse each response option according to the layout of their specific work center.”

Another significant benefit of training in work centers is the flexibility to learn when convenient to the organization.

“This more-flexible exercise program provides options for commanders to ensure their personnel are ready outside of base-wide exercise schedules,” said Rose.

Rose added that past base-wide active shooter exercises have led to mistaken reports of real world events. These smaller, localized training sessions reduce the potential of a false alarm.

“False reports during an exercise can have tragic and tactical consequences,” said Rose. “Previous false reports have come from areas of the base which were not the “play area” and initiated a full real-world response from Security Forces and local law enforcement with responding members expecting to see an armed adversary.”

Familiarizing oneself with the building, walking through the work center and understanding safety features and escape routes could result in saved lives during an active shooter incident. 

“If you have a plan to use a desk as a barricade, but you’ve never physically tried to move that desk, you haven’t prepared yourself to respond during a crisis,” said Rose. “You would not want to discover the desk is too heavy to move during a real world situation. Physically attempting what you would do in a training environment allows shortfalls to be identified and new courses of action to be established and practiced.”

In addition to the 502 ABW exercises, Rose and his team are currently conducting small scale exercises for every office space in AETC headquarters. They started with the AETC commander’s front office. 

“Everyone in our office staff learned something during this exercise,” said Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, AETC’s command chief. “We learned what to do and corrected some assumptions so we’re prepared should we need to respond.”

“This unit training isn’t a replacement for training defenders, office of special investigation agents and emergency operations center operators,” said Rose. “It allows individuals to receive the training necessary for their position. We want everyone to know their role and have an emergency plan that enables responses to become second nature.”

To learn more about active shooter training visit https://www.beready.af.mil/Disasters-Emergencies/Man-Made-Incident/Active-Shooter/.

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