FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C. -- Static noise blared from the speakers and lights flash as fog fills the halls of Meade High School during an All Hazard Incident/Crisis Response Training Exercise on Fort Meade, Maryland, August 13.
The exercise, hosted by U.S. Army Military District of Washington, brought agencies together in a realistic training environment. The quarterly training, allowed agencies with uniquely different capabilities the opportunity to work together in response to an active shooter hostage scenario.
Participates included, U.S. Army Special Reaction Teams, SRT, comprised of Soldiers from 289th Military Police Company and 947th Military Police Detachment, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard); officers from the Fort Meade Directorate of Emergency Services and Maryland State Police Department.
SRT is a specialized military police unit trained to respond to crisis situations at Army installations.
During the exercise participants were evaluated on their tactical judgement, physical conditioning and overall team effectiveness. Teams must successfully alert, assemble and respond to a high risk environment.
"The purpose of today's exercise is to evaluate the participants initial response," said police Cpl. Shaun Lomax, training officer with Fort Meade Police Department. "An active shooter is a possible threat to a military installation, this is why it is important we ensure that our officers remain effective."
During the morning training focused on the individual teams' ability to effectively enter school, clear rooms, evacuate hostages, respond to threats of explosive devices and subdue suspects, among other tasks, explained Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knudson Fort Meade's provost marshal and director of the Directorate of Emergency Services.
"The morning portion was just one aspect of it," Knudson said. "The collective portion, how [the agencies] all come together is what we stressed in the afternoon."
Interagency training events like this are critical to ensure readiness, according to Knudson and Lomax.
"This training builds on the training we have conducted before," Knudson said. "It is important that we are able to train with the other tactical teams, such as the SRT and Maryland State Police, it allows us to stress the collective aspect to responding to a scenario like this."
"A lot of time when [Fort Meade Police Department] is doing this type of training it is done independently," Lomax said. "It is critical that the agencies come together like this and combine the different phases of [responding]."
Conducting the training in the school was a welcomed benefit for the first responders.
"It is a bonus to have the opportunity to get in and train on the grounds of a location we would anticipate an active-shooter scenario," Knudson said. "The more familiar [first responders] are with building the better."
The event was successful and beneficial to all of the organizations that participated.
"This was a successful training event and I think that everyone involved benefited," Lomax said. "It's absolutely critical that we train together in exercises so that we are ready and able to provide a full force effort when saving lives."
"We do this type of training to make sure we are always ready to go should the worst ever happen," Knudson said. "I want the public to know that we are trained and will continue to train so we can protect them."