by Eric M. White
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
3/19/2014 - YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio -- Are
you prepared to respond appropriately if an active shooter enters your
workplace and opens fire? That's the question the 910th Airlift Wing
Inspection Team sought to answer with a base-wide training exercise
here, March 18.
The exercise began at 9:10 A.M. when coordinators triggered the mass
notification system. Bright lights flashed in base buildings as audio
messages informed personnel that an exercise was commencing. WIT members
were careful to keep details hidden until the scenario began.
"We don't want people prepping for the exercise," said Air Force Reserve
Captain Adam Schubel, a pilot with the 773rd Airlift Squadron and
deputy inspection planner for the 910th AW. "We want it to be as real as
Shortly after the exercise notification, personnel in the headquarters
building were jolted from their work by the sound of simulated weapon
fire and a frantic voice shouting, "exercise, active shooter, exercise,
active shooter." A masked gunman moved from office to office with an
orange training rifle and sidearm complete with gunfire sound effects,
before hiding in a crowded training room. Inspectors, identified by
bright safety vests, watched and noted the responses of base personnel.
YARS went under a total lockdown and was elevated to Force Protection
Level Delta as first responders stepped into action. A 910th Security
Forces Squadron fire team began a sweep of the headquarters building
where the active shooter was reported. Moving in formation through
hallways and offices, the fire team searched for the shooter, eventually
exchanging simulated fire to neutralize him.
"First responders get some very valuable training out of it," said
Schubel, "but in reality, we want everybody to get valuable training. It
helps us evaluate evacuation and lockdown procedures and measure how
well personnel respond."
Once the building was cleared of immediate danger, YARS fire and
emergency services personnel set up triage stations outside headquarters
and began treating those affected. The responders found several
training dummies throughout the building with placards indicating the
extent of their injuries. Other base personnel, identified by WIT
members as wounded or deceased, were marked with similar placards and
"When we respond to incidents like an active shooter situation, we know
that people we call friends and comrades could be injured or deceased,
and that is a tough pill to swallow," said John Lewis, II, YARS fire
emergency services chief. "That is the prime reason we participate in
the response exercises. It prepares us for this type of incident and we
revel in the opportunities to support and take care of the folks on this
Shortly after the exercise began, key personnel reported to the
Emergency Operations Center to work through response processes and
checklists. The EOC provides a centralized location for communication
and response actions. The first priority after such an emergency is to
account for personnel.
Once full accountability of base personnel was achieved, the end of the
exercise was sounded throughout the base. That's when the real work
began for the WIT. They will spend days sorting through after action
reports and discussing lessons learned during the event.
The primary purpose of disaster exercises is to identify and correct
response weaknesses, ensuring the safety and security of personnel and
property. Preparedness helps preserve personnel and assets should a
real-world disaster ever occur.