SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
Members of the 375th Security Forces Squadron and 375th Medical Group stepped up to help local first responders during an active shooter exercise, July 24 and July 31, 2018, at Whiteside Elementary School in Belleville, Illinois.
The exercise involved multiple agencies, including local law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and air medical services.
“The purpose of the exercise is to provide a scenario for which the responding agencies can effectively apply tactics, communication capabilities, command and control techniques and dynamic operational conformity in real time,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Heitzmann, 375th SFS NCO in charge of police services.
Heitzmann continued with, "It is always beneficial for us to observe from an outside perspective, what does and doesn't work for other law enforcement agencies and to apply these observations to our training curriculum as we see applicable."
By developing and rehearsing a comprehensive active shooter plan, leadership can better protect their employees from an active shooter incident.
"When I received the email from Deputy Graham from the St. Clair County Sheriff's Office reading Active Shooter [exercise] in the subject line, I called him immediately, without having read the body of the email, and told him we will assist in any way, 100 percent," said Heitzmann.
Part of the assistance from Heitzmann involved quickly gathering 30 volunteers from the 375th SFS whose presence in the school created a realistic atmosphere.
The volunteers consisted of members of the 375th SFS, employees from the St. Clair Health Department, teachers from Whiteside Elementary School, and local community members.
The 375th Medical Group moulage team also assisted during the exercise. The term "moulage" is used to describe the process of creating fake injuries. They utilized make-up, fake blood and putty to make players appear to have different injuries that may be sustained during an active shooter in a real-world scenario.
Heitzmann said realism is key to a successful exercise because it better prepares players for real-world incidents. It helps players prepare by increasing stress levels and letting them see possible injuries that can come from an active shooter. By doing so, they will be able to react appropriately.
An active shooter incident can be unpredictable and can progress quickly. Every member present plays a huge role in alleviating the impact of an active shooter incident.
Richard Watson, St. Clair County sheriff, said he was grateful for the assistance the Scott volunteers provided and that, at the end of the day, everyone has a role in protecting their community.
“We are all on the same team,” he said. “We are here to protect and serve.”