180th Fighter Wing Tests Airmen Response During Active Shooter Exercise

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Nic Kuetemeyer
  • Public Affairs
No one debates that active shooter tragedies happen all too often and Airmen must be prepared to survive, but there are many differing opinions on why it happens and just as many arguments about how to keep it from happening.

In response to this now, ever-present, threat of violence, the 180th Fighter Wing in Swanton, Ohio, conducted a live, base-wide active shooter response exercise, May 15, 2016. All personnel took part and were evaluated by the Wing Inspection Team to ensure training was effectively put in action.

Senior Master Sgt. Greg Chonko, Wing Inspection Team manager at the 180FW, is crystal clear on the purpose for these training exercises.

"If we affect one person positively, even in their civilian life," said Chonko, "They may end up being able to help somebody."

National Guard members are constantly training for scenarios that happen only to military members. It's easy to forget that an active shooter incident could happen anytime, anywhere.

"Active shooter scenarios are dynamic situations," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Dellisanti, 180FW inspection scheduler. "They require an active response."

That element of randomness has driven a change in the response training military members receive. Early strategies, developed after the Columbine shooting, were based on what was already familiar: fire and tornado drills. In those early days, before anyone could predict how common active shooter situations would become, the thought was to essentially wait until law enforcement arrived.

Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Escape, or A.L.I.C.E. training, is an updated methodology empowering military members and civilians to give themselves a better chance to survive. A.L.I.C.E. trains people to communicate with others, form plans, build barricades, execute escape routes and at last resort: fight the attacker to neutralize the threat. These actions all take place before law enforcement can respond, usually within the first five to six minutes.

"ALICE training provides a comprehensive set of options that have the potential to improve survivability and reduce casualties during an active shooter incident," said Lt. Philip Cook, ALICE instructor with the Toledo Police Department. "It's when the intended victims take proactive measures to interdict the shooter that the best outcomes occur."

After months of planning, enlisting the help of 31 inspectors, 21 inspection team members, eight actors and coordinating firefighters and Security Forces response teams, the exercise was a success. According to the inspection team and Security Forces Squadron, 180FW Airmen did well responding to the threat.

"Overall the base responded well and we got some good feedback on how to improve," said Dellisanti, boiling down the ultimate goal of day. "We need to keep people safe."

Dellisanti and the inspection teams said once the exercise started, the entire base took action. Airmen were quick to notify the Security Forces Squadron, get to safe shelter or escape and response teams were dispatched within minutes.

"It is very encouraging that the 180FW takes this real-world threat seriously and is willing to provide its members with this incredibly valuable training," said Cook.
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