SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Airmen ran through a gauntlet of tests during a three-day force protection condition, active shooter and mass casualty exercise May 7-9, 2018.
The exercise was conducted to test the base and local first responders’ ability to react to a variety of scenarios, all occurring on the installation.
“The purpose of this exercise is to make sure we have all the response elements in place and ready to respond at any given time across Seymour Johnson Air Force Base,” said Maj. John-Paul Adrian, 4th Security Forces Squadron commander.
On the first day of the exercise, simulated law enforcement agencies found simulated terrorist intelligence, which led to members of the 4th SFS elevating the base’s force protection condition. Then, on the second day, a roleplaying, unauthorized person drove through the gate, commonly known as a “gate runner,” also resulted in a heightened defensive posture across the base.
On a smaller scale, the 4th SFS exercises its defenders daily to ensure readiness, but this exercise was base wide and included several 4th Fighter Wing agencies, something that is required at least once a year.
“By doing this as a wing exercise, we’re able to exercise in a real-world environment to make sure that our tactics, techniques and procedures are ready to go,” said Adrian. “It’s also important that the wing sees us in action, that way everyone is prepared and ready in case we ever need to respond in the real world.”
The third day consisted of a simulated active shooter and mass casualty exercise. At notification of a shooter, the entire base went into “lockdown” procedures. Once the shooter was contained, security forces and local first responders from Wayne County Sheriff’s office and Goldsboro Police Department raided the shooter’s location.
During this portion of the exercise, members of the 4th SFS and 4th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department teamed to practice the new technique of “rescue task force.” This technique allows first responders to not only neutralize the threat, but also fire fighters can provide first aid to any wounded, said Adrian.
Once the simulated active shooter was neutralized, first responders and Wayne County emergency medical services worked to quickly treat and transport the simulated wounded to Wayne UNC Health Care hospital.
“This was a very dynamic and complex exercise,” said Lt. Col. Panos Bakogiannis, 4th Fighter Wing Inspector General and lead evaluator for the active shooter portion of the exercise. “We focus a lot on wartime readiness and now it’s time to take a look at how well we respond to these types of emergencies.”
Bakogiannis saw several positives and negatives while evaluating the wing’s performance.
“This is why we conduct these exercises,” said Bakogiannis. “We don’t expect to be perfect, but now we know what areas we need to improve on and move in that direction.”