DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah -- Shots are fired. Gunpowder hangs in air, as a lone shooter darts from office to office looking for someone, anyone, to gun down. Door's slam and locks click as employees prepare to survive.
A two-day active shooter exercise was held at Dugway Proving Ground May 24 and 25 at the West Desert Test Center and in the English Village community area.
"These exercises give our police and other first responders a chance to use their training skills during an organized drill. This kind of training helps to cement their best practices for emergency response," said Paul Easterly, DPG's antiterrorism officer, who helped organized the event.
Exercises, like these, also provide employees with the chance to practice safety procedures such as shelter in place, locking building doors, and supervisor accountability for all employees.
The scenarios included a single shooter at each location. Response times of all participating organizations were timed and observed by a team of observers from other Army installations.
First on the scene were DPG's police officers in personal protective body armor, which included vests, gloves, knee pads, and helmets. In choreographed movements they advanced from room to room calling out if it's clear or providing details for the team members who follow.
Employees were told to hold in place as the building was secured. Once cleared, responders ensured a quick and safe evacuation. Judgement calls were made rapidly by skilled experts. The wounded were stabilized for transportation. The building was secured.
Included in this exercise were several press releases and one practice press conference each day. This exercise gave DPG's commander, garrison leaders, and subject-matter experts the chance to formulate their reactions and prepare answers for media.
"This was a real learning experience," said Col. Sean Kirschner, Dugway Proving Ground commander, referring to the mock press conference held the first day. "I was surprised with the scope of questions I was asked. I am better prepared to respond."
Kirschner said he would be interested in comparing notes with other spokespersons who would respond during the second day's media training.
Employees are contacted at their computer desks by a notification system, once a report of an emergency has been made. The pop-up window tells workers to acknowledge and close. This response ensures that all employees are accounted for and safe. If an employee does not respond, records are checked to verify if the employee is on leave.
A second count is provided by each office supervisor and reported by phone to the Emergency Operation Center on post. Then, doors are locked and blinds are lowered to safeguard the people inside.
These training events prepare an entire installation to respond quickly and with confidence. In past years, residents and students of the Dugway High School have been included in these exercises. Each exercise is specifically designed to help members of the team feel secure that the command is aware of the situation and will act to have a safe outcome.
"We appreciate the hard work of our teams. The hope is this training will protect and save lives where and whenever these events occur," Easterly said.