Active Shooter Exercise Prepares Dover Schools
By By: Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 06, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The staff of George S. Welch Elementary School and Dover Air Force Base Middle School teamed up with the 436th Security Forces Squadron to hold an active shooter exercise Feb. 26, 2018, here, during a teacher in-service day.
The exercise was meant to train the school faculty and Security Forces on how to react if such an incident was to happen. It gave them a chance to ask questions and receive guidance. Security Forces briefed the teachers on proper procedures right before they sent in the two acting gunmen thus starting the exercise.
U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense regulations require the installation to hold two active shooter exercises per fiscal year. This particular exercise also provided valuable instruction to the teachers, who received classroom-specific instruction afterward.
"The exercise was aimed to train and evaluate the faculty's response procedures,” said Maj. Christopher Smith, 436th Airlift Wing Inspector General chief of exercises. “Our security forces members worked closely with their school district counterparts over the past three months to develop a realistic scenario and training plan for the faculty."
In fact, the school district requested the training to be held at these schools for the benefit of both the school staff and the security forces members, Smith said.
"Although this exercise was not specifically designed to address the latest national events, it is still prudent that we prepare all facets of our installation, to include our schools and base populace, for such contingencies,” said Smith.
A take-away from the exercise was that the teachers and the defenders understood each other’s roles in the scenario. If this were to actually happen, everyone would be able to use what they learned in the exercise to neutralize the possible threat.
“Active shooter occurrences are unpredictable and can happen anywhere at any time, so practicing response exercises like these are extremely important to ensure we’re ready if it ever happens here,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Kinnick, 436th SFS Chief, standardization and evaluation.
Security Forces members closed off access to base housing, halting all inbound and outbound traffic to practice lockdown procedures. After demonstrating the capability, they re-opened to allow continued access to residents living on the installation. Although it was simulated, the tactics and procedures remain the same.
“As with most crisis scenarios, no two active shooter responses are identical; however, the primary active shooter response principle remains the same – immediately engage and neutralize the threat,” said Kinnick.
Exercises like this show whether or not the training and procedures are effective. Security Forces can take the feedback and change what they need to in order to become more effective.
If an active shooter event ever happens at Dover AFB the partnership built during the exercise will be critical, Kinnick said.
“While we hope Team Dover never suffers from a tragedy like this, we train so we’re ready to respond [to an active shooter on base] at a moment’s notice,” said Lt. Col. Michael Morales, 436th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Our partnership with our local and state counterparts greatly improves our training experience allowing both to integrate seamlessly in a real-world event.”