Active Shooter Exercise Improves Interagency Teamwork
By Staff Sgt. Michael Matkin, 161 ARW Public Affairs
/ Published June 05, 2011
Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base -- "Exercise, exercise, exercise. "
"Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown."
Simulated shots rang out at the vehicle maintenance building as part of an active shooter exercise here at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix during the June Unit Training Assembly.
The active shooter exercise involved local members from the Transportation Security Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Phoenix Police Department and 161 ARW Security Forces.
The exercise provided the different agencies the opportunity to work together, improve communication and coordinate strategy.
"Interagency exercises like this are important because we use different tactics; we don't always know how one another operates," said Officer Eric Gustafson, Phoenix Police Department and member of the clearing team. "Also, it's good to get to know each other so that we have an established relationship in the event of a [real-world] situation, making it easier to work together."
Initial breach team member Staff Sgt. David Griffin, 161 ARW Security Forces, agreed saying, "Having the opportunity to work together with other law enforcement agencies gives us the chance to coordinate tactics so that we work well as a team. This ensures that in a real-world situation we resolve the situation quickly, with no further individuals getting hurt."
Making certain nobody else gets hurt; including the responding law enforcement teams is their number one priority, said Sergeant Griffin.
"The main thing you need to be thinking about when you walk in to a situation such as this needs to be safety," said Sergeant Griffin. "We want to go in as a team and leave as a team."
He also indicated that in high stress situations, involving multiple people, teamwork is essential to resolving the situation quickly and safely.
"It is only through teamwork that we will be successful," said Sergeant Griffin. "Each individual in the team has a role."
The individuals in a clearing team are often comprised of members from different law enforcement agencies, which was part of the training scenario.
"I thought the clearing of the buildings went well," said Officer Gustafson. "I thought there might be some problems with different styles, but we all seemed to communicate and work very well together.
The training also provided the outside agencies to become more familiar with the layout of the base, helping increase response time.
"When I received the call over the radio I had no idea where building 40 was located; however, I am now familiar with the base and can respond accordingly; vastly improving response time," said Officer Gustafson.
Making improvements in response times and identifying other areas that need additional training was part of the objective of the active shooter training.
"There were a few rough spots, but I think we can work through those with more training and exercises like this," said Sergeant Griffin. "It is important that we work as a team and continue to practice so that we can be more proficient. Overall though, I think we did pretty well."
Officer Gustafson agreed saying, "This training was very valuable for me, my department and the Air National Guard as well."