By Justin Creech, Belvoir EagleJuly 21, 2011
A shooter started at the post exchange and made his way over to Fort Belvoir Elementary School.
This was the scenario Friday when Belvoir’s Installation Emergency Management conducted an active-shooter training exercise that included emergency responders from in and around Fort Belvoir.
“I thought it went real well,” said Tim Wolfe, Fort Belvoir Directorate of Emergency Services, police chief. “Everybody that came out really treated it like a real event. It kept them thinking and kept them on their feet.”
The situation at the elementary school went from an active shooter to a hostage situation due to a trip wire being inadvertently set, causing a criminal investigation command hostage negotiations team to have to get involved.
Wolfe said it was good that all of the response units got a chance to work together, but also said it’s not common for an active-shooter situation to turn into a hostage situation.
“Everybody expected them to come through the front door. So, probably if this were a real event, it would’ve ended about 30 seconds into it because they came through the back door and actually started chasing the shooter,” said Wolfe. “Once somebody shows the propensity for violence, law enforcement will want to stop that situation as fast as they can.”
Carlton Freeze, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, plan specialist, observed the response teams at the PX during the exercise. He said he was also pleased with how everything was handled Friday.
“Throughout the exercise, we encountered some challenges that would take place if it would’ve been a real situation. We overcame those challenges and I think, overall, we were successful in having a successful exercise,” said Freeze. “We learned some things that we might look at to improve, but, overall, it was a successful exercise.”
Freeze said he and his team members were looking at the overall procedures that the first responders went through during the exercise, not how fast they got through it. He also felt the change in situation at the elementary school was also a benefit to the response teams.
“The benefit for the garrison was to make sure that everybody knows how to respond to an active-shooter or hostage situation,” said Freeze.
Military police, department of the Army civilians, criminal investigators and the fire department were among the response teams that participated. Headquarters Battalion also participated in the exercise.
Mario Sumter, DPTMS, emergency management specialist, thanked the volunteers who helped make this event as realistic as possible. He also recognized the Red Cross and contributing vendors for keeping the participants fed and hydrated during the exercise.