MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Moody Air Force Base participated in a biannual active shooter exercise Dec. 8.
Airmen and civilians went into complete lockdown for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes taking cover while the 23rd Security Forces Squadron practiced response procedures to ensure readiness should an active shooter situation ever arise.
“This is for everybody’s safety because active shooters are a big concern throughout the world lately,” said Master Sgt. Kerry Warren, 23rd Mission Support Group Wing Inspection Team group lead. “For the base as a whole, we’re using all of our resources available to make this as real as we can without being unsafe.”
To ensure the reality of the situation, the WIT had all Moody’s resources at their disposal due to the weight of the exercise.
“The Secretary of Defense, [Ashton Carter,] came out with a memo that states it’s our highest priority; that’s why this is the only exercise we do two times a year,” said Tech. Sgt. Ross Stiegemeier, 23rd Wing NCO in charge of wing inspection teams. “[Shootings] are not just happening on military bases, [they're] happening all through the world.”
With the random and widespread nature of active shooters, exercises like these prepare more than just military members.
“It’s the first thing that comes across the news and has everyone talking,” said Warren. “This exercise has a high level of awareness and everybody’s [participating.]”
Everybody on base, including civilians and base visitors, became active role players as the scenario began at approximately 9 a.m.
“The hardest part is getting the word out to make sure everyone knows this is happening,” said Stiegemeier. “We made contact with four local counties, local school districts and the local law enforcement officers just so everybody’s onboard and knows what’s going on.”
In addition to the local community, the base made an effort to communicate to retirees and family members the exercise was going to take place, and if they were on base at the time, they’d become part of it.
According to one 23rd SFS member, it doesn’t matter who is around, their job doesn’t change.
“Our main responsibility during an active shooter is to neutralize the threat,” said Senior Airman Stephanie Brown, 23rd SFS unit trainer. “After that, it becomes a crime scene and we secure the area.”
As a unit trainer, Brown understands the importance of practicing high-stress situations much like active shooters scenarios.
“It goes so fast that you don’t even realize what you’re doing until it’s all over,” said Brown. “These exercises help prepare us because it’s exhilarating, adrenaline is pumping and your stress level is through the roof. You want to keep people safe, and yet you want to [neutralize the threat] at the same time. It’s just a roller-coaster feeling.”
The high pressure moments are the result of months of planning, turned into a short time of action. Nevertheless, Stiegemeier said he believes in the cause.
“It’s many days of logistics and talking to people, but it’s always worth it knowing the civilians and military populous, who don’t train for this on a daily basis take something away,” said Stiegemier. “Even if it’s only one thing from the ‘run, hide, fight.’ I sleep better at night knowing that we passed on something to these individuals who are in this exercise.”