Mark Martinez, one of the emergency command and control managers for the event and a member of the 78th Civil Engineer Group, particularly praised the communications flow during the four-hour scenario, both among the various emergency response elements and with notification to the base-wide population.
“Communications is always one of the largest things in an exercise like this,” Martinez noted Friday afternoon. “We tested our common operating picture, a program that allows all of our units to log into and see what is going on at the scene.”
The system also permits base employees to learn what is happening through their control center.
“As things were progressing, they knew what was going on and what areas to stay out of,” he said.
The base’s Giant Voice Installation and Warning System also worked well, Martinez noted. “That enables us to immediately notify the base population of what is going on and what they need to do in terms of locking down their facility,” he said.
The scenario focused on Building 767 near the base chapel and included “shooters” taking hostages among members of the military personnel flight who work there. The exercise kicked off about 9 a.m. and ended shortly after 1 p.m.
“It was just a normal office-type environment,” Martinez said. “They process identification cards so they also have customers who walk in and out.”
The scenario and exercise were not linked in any way to the mass shootings in Colorado last week, he emphasized.
“Our exercise evaluation team has a lot of meetings,” Martinez pointed out, “so I’m sure they’ve been planning this for several months.”
The game plan called for testing base procedures and the ability of emergency responders to adequately handle exercise events. Base security forces, fire department and medical units were involved.
But the Thursday scenario also called for assistance from the Houston County Sheriff’s Department. Some 30 members from that agency joined forces with base counterparts in working the overall response.
Martinez said the off-base lash up went very well also.
“They were able to exercise and practice the relationships, tactics and techniques of how we function on a military installation,” he said. “They melded very well into those procedures. It worked well.”