Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will conduct training exercises for multiple crisis situations this week, nearly nine months after a drill led to a false active shooter incident at the military installation.
Personnel will respond to various mass casualty and hazardous material scenarios designed to demonstrate “Wright-Patt’s ability to respond to different emergency events,” according to the base. The Air Force requires installations to hold an active shooter exercise twice a year.
Exercise sirens could be sounded this week and may be audible in areas adjacent to the base, according to a release. Traffic on the base could be impacted as gates could be backed up and some roadways may be temporarily blocked, according to the release.
Installation Inspection Team members, who will be wearing bright-yellow reflective vests, will evaluate the response to the exercise events throughout the week, according to the base.
As it conducts this week’s drills, the base will try to avoid the chaos that ensued last August when a couple of training exercises went awry.
The incident resulted in a military service member discharging multiple rounds of ammunition from an assault rifle. The “poorly planned and executed” base exercises caused a chaotic response to the August false alarm, according to a report about the incident released in December.
An uncoordinated response from law enforcement in August could have resulted in “serious injury and property damage” and terrified staff and civilians in a hospital filled with “fog and friction,” the report stated.
Active shooter false alarms are not uncommon on military installations. But, a Dayton Daily News investigation found that few others unfolded like the one at Wright-Patt did.
The confusion in August stemmed from two exercises, including an active shooter drill taking place at the Kittyhawk Chapel and a mass casualty exercise the 88th Medical Group held at the Wright-Patt Medical Treatment Facility, according to the report.
The exercises also were not published in the broader list of scheduled scenarios occurring on base that week though they were published in the base newspaper Skywriter. A formal risk assessment was not conducted for either exercises being conducted that day, the report found.
The base requested support from one SWAT Team and three medical aid units, but base officials were unaware of the Code 99 alert or civilian off-base active shooter protocols resulting in the “mass response from off-base,” according to the report.
In preparing for an active shooter drill, it’s important to give people a heads up so the situation is not mistaken for an actual threat, Greg Crane, founder and chief executive officer of the ALICE Training Institute in Medina, Ohio said in 2018. The institute trains people to respond to active shooter attacks in a way that improves their chances of survival, according to the organization’s website.
“Whenever we’re doing a training obviously internal personnel are aware that a training is taking place,” Crane said. “We also contact law enforcement…that way if someone does call local law enforcement, they may not send the whole cavalry.”
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