Edwards AFB holds active-shooter exercise

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Members of the 412th Security Forces Squadron conduct a security sweep of Desert Junior-Senior High School during an active-shooter exercise at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 9, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Richard Gonzales)

“Practice makes perfect” and when it comes to saving lives, timely and effective response by emergency first-responders ensure life-saving measures are maximized.

Team Edwards emergency first-responders conducted an active-shooter exercise at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 9 and 12, 2019.

Members of the 412th Security Forces Squadron were on the scene within moments of the call of an active shooter at Desert Junior-Senior High School. Security Forces plays an integral role in the opening minutes of a shooting incident.

“To the best that you can; control the scene while ensuring that you save lives and eliminate the threat,” said Master Sgt. Raymond Billups, 412th SFS. “As the on-scene commander, I’m communicating with additional forces that may not be here, ones that are on-scene, and our other sister emergency services.”

Members of the 412th Security Forces Squadron place a “suspect” into the back of squad car during an active-shooter exercise at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 9, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Richard Gonzales)

In the scenario, the shooter was apprehended minutes after she was secured. However, the exercise did not end there. Additional SFS Defenders performed security sweeps of the area, medical personnel were dispatched to treat the shooting victims. The victims were triaged, and if necessary, were transported to a medical facility.

The 412th Test Wing Inspector General’s Office plan and coordinate base-wide exercises throughout the year. The exercises cover different exercises such as the active-shooter scenario, but also natural emergencies and deployment operations. The following day, another portion of the scenario played out at the base theater.

Senior Airman Timothy Batia-Gore, 412th Security Forces Squadron, escorts a shooting “victim” to safety during an active-shooter exercise at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 9, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Richard Gonzales)

At the theater, Airmen who role-played as school students were reunited with their parents. This scenario allowed different base agencies to work together to ensure the process to reunite a student with their parent, or guardian, was done smoothly and effectively. In the event of a real-life situation, different organizations around the base would coordinate together identify a location, provide logistics and provide personnel to carry out the reunion process.

“It’s one of many exercises that are required to be done on Edwards,” said Randy Wells, Installation Exercise Planner, 412th Test Wing Inspector General’s Office. “The purpose of the exercise is to validate the ability of the Test Wing to handle an active-shooter situation to prepare the base population for that event, should it happen.”

For first-responders, the training and lessons learned are priceless in their mission to keep the Edwards community safe.

“We get a lot of input and we get to learn a lot,” said Senior Airman Jose Zavala, 412th SFS. “If it happens, we’re prepared for the actual thing.”
 

A “parent” checks in at the base theater to be able to pick up his child during the reunification portion of an active-shooter exercise at Desert Junior-Senior High School on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 9, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Richard Gonzales)