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Active shooter exercise puts Team Fairchild to the test

Aaron Watkins, 92nd Security Forces Squadron police officer, peeks around a wall during an active shooter exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Jan. 16, 2019.

Aaron Watkins, 92nd Security Forces Squadron police officer, peeks around a wall during an active shooter exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Jan. 16, 2019. The exercise was set up to be as realistic as possible, providing the best possible training to members of Team Fairchild. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dustin Mullen)

Members of the 92nd Security Forces Squadron and 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire department, aid a victim during an active shooter exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Jan. 16, 2019.

Members of the 92nd Security Forces Squadron and 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire department, aid a victim during an active shooter exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Jan. 16, 2019. The exercise provided critical training for Team Fairchild first responders, as well as lockdown training for nearly all base personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dustin Mullen)

Aaron Watkins, 92nd Security Forces Squadron police officer, aids a victim during an active shooter exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Jan. 16, 2019.

Aaron Watkins, 92nd Security Forces Squadron police officer, aids a victim during an active shooter exercise at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Jan. 16, 2019. The exercise provided training to multiple agencies on the base to enhance emergency response. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dustin Mullen)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --

Team Fairchild executed an active shooter exercise Jan. 16, 2019.

The exercise provided response training to nearly every member of the base. For responders from the 92nd Security Forces Squadron, 92nd Medical Group and 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron, training was put to the test with scenarios aimed at enhancing emergency response.

“It is a wing-wide exercise, so everyone was involved to some degree,” said Master Sgt. Clayton Simon, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Inspector General exercise planner. “For all of the base, we tested their ability to lock down and respond to mass notifications.”

More than 35 people were players in the exercise, from a mock shooter to several wounded victims, with more than 60 members of the wing inspection team evaluating every aspect of the base’s response to the incident.

Shots rang out from the base medical treatment facility as the event kicked off and the exercise "call to action" went out, security forces rushed to the scene, weapons in hand.

Staff Sgt. Jordan Ragan, 92nd SFS installation patrolman, was the second one entering the medical building and one of a three-man team on the initial sweep. He was able to sum up the exercise’s importance in one word -- experience.

“For buildings like this where we don’t really train, it helps us practice for a real-world scenario which is something we don’t do on a daily basis,” Ragan said. “It helps us deal with adrenaline, builds confidence and helps sharpen our tactics.”

Once the building was cleared, firefighters and medics rushed in to help the wounded. As the scenario unfolded, multiple base agencies played a hand in its success.
Simon emphasized the importance of keeping every member of Team Fairchild ready for this type of situation, especially for first responders.

“This is all about readiness and being prepared to handle an emergency situation as efficiently as possible,” Simon said. “You cannot plan for a specific active shooter incident. It's a dynamic, unpredictable scenario. What we can do is develop a scenario that mimics one and put our people through the scenario as realistically as possible.”

This exercise paid homage to a dark moment in Team Fairchild’s past, with a goal of never letting it happen again.

“There was an active shooter on Fairchild more than 20 years ago and it happened in the clinic,” Simon said. “One of the things [the medical group] commander wanted was to exercise those muscles again. We wanted to try and make this as realistic as possible and make sure that if an incident like that occurs, everyone has the sharpest set of skills to handle it.”