News>What’s in it for me? Exercises are more than just practice
A 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron defender scans the area after responding to an active-shooter exercise inside the BPC fitness center in Southwest Asia, July 30, 2012. The active-shooter exercise tested the defense and response capabilities of U.S. service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)
Members from the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron apprehend Staff Sgt. Angelo DeMesa, 379th ESFS instructor and simulated active shooter, during an exercise inside the BPC fitness center in Southwest Asia, July 30, 2012. The active-shooter exercise tested the defense and response capabilities of U.S. service members. DeMesa is deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and is a native of Angeles City, Philippines. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)
Senior Airman Jared Ensminger, 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron simulated blast victim, waits for first responders to arrive during a mass casualty exercise here April 6, 2012. The exercise was created to evaluate first responder capabilities as well as emergency response procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)
A firefighter pulls a simulated blast victim from the theater during a mass casualty exercise here April 6, 2012. The base participated in an exercise that simulated an explosion with numerous casualties to test first responder capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)
by Senior Airman Bryan Swink
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/20/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- When some hear the phrase 'base exercise,' irritation comes to mind. They see these events as disruptions to their day, something that really isn't a priority and in some cases a waste of their time simply because the standard belief is it's never going to happen to me.
Unfortunately, incidents happen too often and readiness is our best defense.
The four primary types of exercises we perform here are operational readiness exercises, major accident response exercises, and leadership directed to include active shooter and mass casualty exercises.
"The exercises we put into place are designed to be spontaneous and at any random location," said Capt. Christopher Hoskins, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing exercises chief. "It's important the base populace take this seriously because we never know when the unexpected will happen."
Sadly, the unexpected has happened on military installations. On Nov. 5, 2009 the shooting at Fort Hood killed 13 people and wounded 29 others. On April 27, 2011 eight Airmen and one U.S. contractor were attacked and killed by a disgruntled Afghan pilot in a building at Kabul International Airport.
"These examples are the exact reason we must train, take seriously and prepare ourselves on how to respond appropriately when we find ourselves in a real world emergency," said Lt. Col. Jason Koler, 379th AEW Plans and Programs chief.
During the most recent active shooter exercise held at the BPC Gym July 30, most responded accordingly and followed established procedures with regard to the threat. Unfortunately, some disregarded the exercise and continued as if nothing was happening. When addressed, some refused to follow expectations that are outlined in the special instructions released before exercises and refused to provide the necessary information to validate his or her exemption status.
The exercise special instructions signed by the 379th AEW vice commander, state all 379th AEW personnel will fully participate in the exercise unless they are designated non-players or are in a designated non-play area at the start of the exercise.
The people exempt from exercises are aircrew members working any part of real-world operations, aircrew members in crew rest, personnel in transit to their work centers, medical personnel performing patient care and patients themselves, security forces or fire department personnel providing real-world responses and any person designated a non-player by their group commander with proper documentation.
"We expect people to be professional and support the purpose of the exercise . We need to work together in order to get the job done," said Hoskins. "This is for the greater good. When people don't participate, it decreases the effectiveness of the exercise.."
When exercises are run - they prepare each of us to respond in a way that increases success, facilitates a more efficient recovery from the emergency and ensures all personnel are prepared to react when the call comes.