Exercise helps post prepare for emergencies
June 8, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. - A Protection Exercise at Fort Riley May 26-27 simulated a shooter- and-hostage scenario at Fort Riley Middle School and a tornado in the Camp Funston area.
"There was a shooting and a hostage situation at Fort Riley Middle School which resulted in multiple casualties. The shooter was secured by law enforcement officials. A gas leak in one of our buildings also resulted in several casualties," said Eric Zenk, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley public affairs specialist during a mock press conference May 27.
The Fort Riley Mission Support Element and U.S. Army Garrison held the mock crisis event to test the installation's readiness and prepare it for emergencies. It also served to train personnel at Fort Riley on crisis management and to look for areas to improve processes. Representatives from units and directorates across post and within the community convened in the Joint Operations Center located within the Division headquarters building.
At the JOC, participants worked to resolve the emergency situations and to restore a sense of normalcy - a reoccurring theme of the exercise. Subject matter experts from areas such as the Directorate of Emergency Services, Directorate of Public Works, Unified School District 475 and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation served as members of the Crisis Management Team and were able to give their input on how to make the situation
"Having gone through many simulated- and real-life events, the Directorate of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation was prepared to handle each scenario presented in the exercise," said Steve Tully, DFMWR director.
Although the installation has been through a few events to test its capabilities, according to Tully, there are and always will be changes that arise and could impact how the circumstances are addressed or who is now responsible for a challenge presented in a real-world event. Working together as part of the CMT in an exercise, Tully said, is the best way to bring out any changes and be able to react in a controlled environment
The mock press conference took place May 27 at the Garrison Public Affairs Office. The press conference was held as way to teach those within PAO how to handle media relations and crisis response. Mock reporters were able to ask questions pertaining to both incidents.
"These are important teachable moments for us," said Garrison Public Affairs Officer Paul Fisher.
IFPEXs are conducted Army wide program and aims to increase understanding and technical proficiency of garrison staffs to respond to terrorist incidents and other crises. Bill Vockery, assistant program manager who travelled to Fort Riley for the exercise, added that the goal is to assist the operations centers and the commanders of Army garrisons in preparing for and responding to a crisis. The time to prepare for emergencies is prior to and not during an event, he said.
The IFPEX program and its trainers visit different Army installations across the United States and overseas. "This is our third trip to Fort Riley since 2006, and each time they have gotten progressively better and better. That's not to say that the IFPEX program is completely responsible for success that Fort Riley has had. The garrison here is truly caring and works hard to make sure that everyone is prepared and can handle a crisis should one arise," Vockery said.
Since 2006, he said, Fort Riley has made improvements in the following areas: being able to capture the information and share what is happening with the neighboring communities, communicating with the various community partners, building important relationships with those who would help in the crisis, and mapping out the plan to respond to the crisis at hand.
"Even though the installation has gotten much better in their response to emergencies,
it takes repeated training events to be able to respond to crisis," Vockery said. "Fort Riley is really taking advantage of the IFPEX program and making the most of their training each time we come to do an exercise."
The last time IFPEX at Fort Riley followed an ice storm in 2008. As a result, at that visit,
the IFPEX trainers put the focus on how the installation could have been better prepared for the ice storm.