MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 23rd Wing Inspection Team held an emergency response exercise Aug. 22 to inspect the recovery phase of an active-shooter situation.
“In my twelve years, I’ve been to very few exercises that flow from the beginning to the actual responding, recovery and clean-up,” said Tech. Sgt. Ross Stiegemeier, 23rd Wing NCO in charge of the Wing Inspection Team. “So this time, we were focused on the recovery phase in the [scenario] where the individuals are dead. There’s no longer a threat, so what do we do now?”
To maintain realism, the WIT included everything leading up to the recovery phase like 911 calls and an initial security forces response.
“There are different phases we [inspect],” Stiegemeier said. “Usually, it takes too much time to see the response and the follow-on recovery phase. That’s why we did it earlier in the morning and a quicker scenario at the beginning, to get us to the backend, so we can hone our skills that we don’t use much.”
Practicing recovery phase skills gave agencies opportunities to walk though coordination that would be necessary for a real-world situation, when the stakes are higher.
“I want the newer [doctors] to gain the ability to stay calm in the mist of chaos. To have forethought about what the current issue is and how can we respond, triage, stabilize and transport in an efficient, safe and smooth manner,” said Lt. Col. H. Wesley Dykes, 23rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron chief and field response team chief. “It’s better to be prepared for everything than to get on the scene and say, ‘I’ve never seen this before,’ or ‘I’ve never walked through this process before.’”
With the constant changeover of military positions and duties, it’s good to walk through operating procedures for emergency responses to ensure best practices are in place.
“These exercises give us the opportunity to identify areas we need to be more educated or change how we do business so that the patients are taken care of to the best of our ability,” Dykes said.
Since situations are possible where an emergency could affect both on and off base, the WIT is looking to integrate with local law enforcement agencies in future exercises.
“Last exercise was more focused on lockdown procedures than the active shooter,” Stiegemeier said. “This one was more focused on what we do after the active shooter, and for the next one, we plan on coordinating and intergrading with [local response forces] and showing our joint capabilities with our surrounding law enforcement brothers.”
Stiegemeier stressed this exercise and future ones wouldn’t be possible without the many Airmen who support the effort.
“I can’t thank the WIT members enough,” Stiegemeier said. “We expect a lot out of them still even though they have their regular duties on a daily basis. There are 180 WIT members, and we can’t do these exercises without them."