Flatiron aids city in active shooter exercise
April 26, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 26, 2012) -- Lakota helicopters landed at Enterprise High School to transport wounded victims during an active shooter mass casualty exercise and Fort Rucker's Flatiron was on the scene to aid the city of Enterprise April 21.
"What we've done is organized a training exercise that incorporates the entire infrastructure system for emergency response for the city of Enterprise," said Lennis Darby, administrative captain for Enterprise Police Department.
The scenario began as police received a call saying that two heavily armed gunmen were seen entering the high school, at which point they were to respond and put the entire emergency response system into play, said the captain.
"Fort Rucker's Flatiron was tasked to support evacuations for the most critically injured from the scene to a local hospital," said Maj. Christian Cook, commander for U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment Flatiron.
"In today's environment, we get so many reports of similar incidents like this one and it's just a matter of time before you have something that reaches every corner of our society," said Darby. "You've got to have all your bases covered. We need to go ahead and prepare for everything that could possibly happen and that's what we're trying to do here."
Darby explained that it's important to run a scenario like this with Flatiron so that the Soldiers can run the flight paths, learn the landing areas and "let us experience the time gaps between the call and response, and different flight times between different locations."
An important part of the exercise is to build relationships, according to Cook.
"Building relationships is always good," he said. "We don't want the first time a crisis happens to be the first time we try to work with someone we don't know."
"I don't want our city and our agency to be caught off guard by something, and I've always told people that you've got to be prepared for the possibilities, not the probabilities," said Darby. "With the cooperative agreements that Fort Rucker and Enterprise have … it's really important to understand how the other agencies work and how the response is actually going to take place so that we know if there are any steps in the system that are missing."
Flatiron's primary mission is for crash rescue, said the commander, but the unit still supports the local communities for real MEDEVAC calls.
"An exercise like this helps all parties develop an understanding of each other's capabilities and how to cooperate," he said, "and we confirm or improve the communication channels already in place."
Cook said that training for an exercise like this one is really no different than training for a military operation, explaining that the planning, synchronizing and execution are all key to integrating multiple agencies effectively.
"It's been a wonderful experience for me," said Darby, "Working with all the different agencies and the cooperative relationship we have is beyond anything that I would have ever expected. I'm absolutely thrilled at Fort Rucker's involvement and I haven't met a single person from Fort Rucker who is not absolutely thrilled to be a part of this exercise."
The performance and outcome of the exercise was an overall success, said Cook.
"Flatiron's pilots, flight medics and firefighters are very motivated and always get going quickly when a MEDEVAC call comes in," he said. "Everything seemed to go very smoothly and Flatiron's operations staff and flight crews did great."
Cook said that the efforts put forth for the exercise were by no means a singular effort and that all the agencies involved did their part to make the exercise a success.
"Flatiron's part was just a small augmentation to a larger, more complex exercise," he said. "The civilian agencies took this exercise seriously and really worked hard during the execution and will perform better … and the community is better prepared as a result."