SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The 375th Air Mobility Wing recently conducted a week-long exercise that tested its ability to respond and communicate through several scenarios designed to keep personnel “battle ready.”
Crisis Look, a brand of exercise, focused on analyzing threats, responding to an active shooter and a mass-casualty event, and performing checklists of weather-related and force protection scenarios.
“The purpose of the exercise was to test our mission assurance and response capabilities, and ensuring that we did so in accordance with several operating plans that the [375th AMW] has,” said Charley Mills, 375th Inspector General director.
Mills explained “how we could have an active shooter on this base any day, any time or we could have a tornado barreling down at the base any day, any time” so It’s important to know how to respond to those types of incidents.
During the mass-casualty portion of the exercise, Airmen were “moulaged,” which is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel to give a realistic feel to the exercise. Personnel were then evaluated on how well they performed Self Aid Buddy Care.
“The individuals who were performing [SABC] were spot on in what they were doing. If you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others in a situation like that—then somebody's going to die,” Mills said starkly.
Members of the IG team observed the capability of the installation to respond with the help of Wing Inspection Team, or WIT, members, such as Tech. Sgt. Alisha Curtis, 375th AMW Command Post command and control NCO in charge.
She explained how a WIT member’s role is to supplement the function of IG, as the number of units and sections to be evaluated during an exercise outnumber the available IG personnel. Additionally, WIT members are subject matter experts for the function they represent and are better equipped to effectively evaluate their member’s performance.
“WIT members play a vital role in ensuring real-world readiness, because through evaluations we can identify and create corrective actions for each section to improve our response to real-world situations,” she said. “This was perfectly displayed during this past exercise, when a real world incident took place. Without hesitation, our Security Forces, Command Post, Threat Working Group and the Crisis Action Team used recent WIT feedbacks and applied it to the a real-world situation, thus displaying unit readiness.”
For others, being a ready, lethal force means having good “muscle memory,” as Senior Airman Noah Calvert, a 375th Security Forces Squadron trainer explained.
“[With this exercise, one could say] everything was thrown out here besides the kitchen sink. That's very good because of how realistic it is to have all those things happen at once. So, if you're in stress-induced environment and you become used to operating in it, once [an event] happens—your body is ready [to respond].”
As scenarios for training were injected throughout the exercise, the Emergency Operations Center with the assistance of the Crisis Action Team and Threat Working Group, answered the call and got instructions and battle rhythms to units across base.
Col. Jason Glynn, 375th Mission Support Group commander and EOC director, said that “the EOC is a mechanism for responding to incidents that occur on the installation. We support the incident commander and report to the Crisis Action Team. The EOC is focused on the actual incident and bringing all the capabilities of units on the installation to bear to support the incident commander.”
He said one of the biggest challenges throughout a week like this is communication, which can be taxing.
“Dealing with incomplete information, and the demands and the pressure of time are very real challenges that would occur in exercises and would occur if an actual situation were to happen. So the way you overcome that is you find ways to communicate. You try to over-communicate as much as you can,” he explained. “At the same time, [you try to] protect the first responders from communication saturation or communication overwhelm.”
He said that from his vantage point, units performed well, “but like any good team, there are a lot of opportunities for us to improve. So that's probably the most important thing that we do, is after the exercise is done is to sit down and do some self-reflection and evaluate how we performed and where those opportunities are to get better.”
For the IG, Mills said, “[The exercise went] very well. People responded and reacted appropriately. There were a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part, I'd say it went rather well.”