In order to prepare for a shooting similar to the events at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, and to generally prepare base and civilian personnel for adverse situations, the station held an exercise to assess its response to a workplace shooting, Sept. 18.
Station emergency and support personnel, as well as personnel from local law enforcement, took part in Exercise Desert Fire and helped evaluate the exercise, which occurred at building 645.
The simulated shooter entered the building early in the workday and immediately began firing blanks at staged role players to simulate the killing and wounding of several people, while also taking hostages before a military police special response team stormed the building and subdued him.
Requirements to prepare for such an event were enacted by the secretary of defense, and are now also required by Marine Corps order.
This is in response to the ongoing threat to any installation, said Col. Robert Kuckuk, the station commanding officer, during the safety brief given before the exercise. This is to determine if the station’s capabilities are able to respond to an active shooter. At the forefront of anything is the safety of the base and the people in it.
This training was based on a disgruntled employee taking up arms, along with others.
The exercise tested not only the station’s first responders but also various other personnel that would be affected by such an incident.
While the station’s military policemen responded to the shooter, simulated media members flooded the public affairs office with call for information on the event. The public affairs office disseminated information over the phone, as well as held a press conference.
“I think everybody learned a lot from this training. They know what they need to improve and what they did decently,” said Cpl. David Reames, a station armorer, who partook in a similar training scenario in 2009.
“An important part of training for an active shooter event is not only training those that respond to the threat, but also training the unarmed potential victims,” said Bill Tait, the station emergency manager.
The station’s mission assurance department spent several weeks prior to the exercise training participants about the various aspects of reacting and surviving such an attack.
The scenarios allowed the station’s emergency responders to determine what they did well and what they need to improve upon.
Training for emergency situations will continue to be a part of the station’s training scenarios.