MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
The 167th Airlift Wing conducted an active shooter exercise Aug. 30, at the Martinsburg, W.Va. air base, as part of an annual mission assurance exercise requirement.
The wing’s command and control elements and emergency responders were tested on their ability to respond to and recover from a mass shooting incident while other base personnel were evaluated on their ability to implement lockdown procedures.
The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to the base and several deputies assisted with the exercise.
“The overarching goal is to present the wing with a realistic scenario in order to test and evaluate the wing’s response organizations, standard operating procedures, quick reaction checklists, plans and systems based on objectives developed from guiding source documents,” said Lt. Col. Tony Henry, the 167th Airlift Wing’s director of inspections.
Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Blood, the installation emergency manager for the 167th AW and a lead planner for the exercise, said it’s important for the wing to train for emergency situations.
“The more you practice them, the faster your response and reactions become,” she said. “No one wants to experience these things, but having the knowledge, even on a simulated scale, will always make the response time shorter and correct actions easier to do.”
Blood’s main focus during the training event was to observe the base populace’s ability to follow proper lockdown procedures.
“These are the immediate actions that can save lives and it’s the Readiness and Emergency Management office’s job to make sure everyone is trained and aware of them,” she said.
During the exercise a lone gunman, played by Master Sgt. Josh Michael, an operations manager for the 167th Civil Engineering Squadron, simulated a shooting rampage in the civil engineering building. Michael was apprehended in the base gym by 167th’s Security Forces Airmen.
Staff Sgt. Cody McCarthy, one of the first security forces Airmen to respond to the scene, said the exercise brings a sense of realism that is difficult to replicate in day to day training.
“The exercise was a learning experience that showed us how quickly things can go awry in a crisis situation,” McCarthy said. “Those of us who participated will bring some of the lessons learned from the exercise back to our co-workers, which will assist us in the event that unfortunate situation were to take place here at the 167th,” McCarthy said.
Members of the wing inspection team observed the exercise and provided feedback to the 167th AW’s Inspector General’s office. The IG office will compile a final report based on those observations.