By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — An active shooter or a hostage situation on base is a real scenario that could happen at any time, but the experience gained through the Condor Crest exercise ensures that Team Pete responders will be ready.
Condor Crest was held Aug. 18-22, and tested base readiness and preparedness to incorporate and coordinate with off-base, civilian agencies. This was the purpose behind the quarterly exercise; ensuring that when a crises or disaster strikes, Team Pete is ready to meet the challenge with a full and capable response.
“Our partnership with the city is paramount; and doing exercises like this is critical to enhancing our relationship with the city,” said Col. Richard Burchfield, Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the 21st Space Wing commander. “Our law enforcement leadership already meets once a month, but to get them out here — where the rubber meets the road — and show that we can execute these types of missions successfully is key.”
Peterson AFB has a long history of teaming up with the many different agencies throughout the Colorado Springs region, from assisting during the 2013 Black Forest Fire or contributing trained medical personnel during the SkyFall emergency response exercise at the Colorado Springs Airport.
“Speaking on behalf of Col. Shaw (21st Space Wing commander), he would like to see these types of events continue, because this is a two-way street here when it comes to being ready to respond. We need our city partners, and must maintain our rock-solid relationship; we are all a part of the larger community team,” said Burchfield.
The future is unknown; but readiness is the one variable easily controlled. Preparedness is one of the major takeaways from every Condor Crest exercise, but it is also a time to consider assistance the base may need from outside agencies. Outside help was an intricate piece to this scenario involving a city SWAT response to a hostage taken at the old Exchange building on base.
“Practicing our coordination and how we are going to work and incorporate with off-base agencies in the event that we need to respond to a situation such as this — an active shooter scenario that turns into a hostage taken — when we will need to partner up regional assets to meet the challenge we are faced with,” said Melinda Clearwater, 21st Space Wing Inspector General director of inspections.
The exercise may have caused a minor inconvenience to the daily routine and life at Peterson AFB, but it is instrumental in base readiness. Providing a realistic scenario for the first responders involved in the exercise is critical to getting maximum effectiveness out of the event and building confidence should a real emergency arise.
“It is an opportunity for us to identify any gaps or deficiencies in our response, helping us to be better prepared,” Clearwater said.