Base experiences emergency response exercise
September 28, 2012
In what was called an "exercise to get the bad guys" by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall police, base directorates combined talents and efforts for a force protection exercise during the morning of Sept. 26. While trained crisis management team members monitored the drill at the emergency operations center (EOC) the bulk of the activity transpired in and around the consolidated dining facility at about nine o'clock.
The drill scenario involved a pair of suspects armed with rifles in the base's DFAC. The job of the joint base police department was to secure the building and remove the shooters while evaluators observed the drill.
"I'm evaluating the police response -- their response to setting up the perimeter, going inside and engaging the suspects, and then clearing the building and setting up the final perimeter, so investigators can come in," said Fort Meade Police Department's Lt. Jon McLeese, who served as an exercise observer and evaluator.
At 9:14, JBM-HH police officers Allen Crawford and William Sanders started a calculated entry into the dining hall. During the opening moments of the practice crisis, authorities secured a two-block stretch of McNair Road between Spates Community Club and south of Brucker Hall and diverted base traffic through the tri-services parking lot.
At approximately 9:20, a second pair of officers entered the shooting scene and a mock shoot-out between police and the suspects ensued. By 9:26, the pair of alleged shooters were in custody and the building soon evolved into a crime scene and a medical triage area.
The JBM-HH Fire Department emergency medical personnel arrived and began first responder procedures. By 10 o'clock the all-clear for the DFAC and surrounding area had been given. A number of base employees and Soldiers posed as shooting victims, witnesses and crime scene passersby during the drill, which was deemed a success by JBM-HH's police chief.
"I think it went very well," Chief William Johnson said after the crisis simulation. "We got to practice our procedures. This is what our guys do day in and day out, so this is nothing new. Whether how small or how big, it goes back to the fundamentals of what we're taught. I think it was very successful."
Following debriefings and meetings in regard to the performance during the exercise, JBM-HH Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter talked about the success of the exercise. "Your actions today in response to the scenario were simply outstanding," she said.
"We will make a few small adjustments to hone our emergency operations in order to further refine and improve upon our ability to handle any incident, large or small."
As in any drill which attempts to re-create a disaster or crisis, the JBM-HH commander emphasized team work and practice to continue to perfect emergency preparedness.
"We will continue to work on our response as a team during subsequent exercises with the right combination of speed and accuracy. Our goal should be to make this second nature, should a real emergency occur," Sumpter added.