By Staff Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters and 50th Security Forces Squadron defenders participated in a v lead by Dominick Pagano, Threat Suppression Incorporated instructor, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Aug. 26-30, to practice their coordination efforts.
Mark Captain, 50th CES fire chief, said active shooter response techniques have evolved in the 20 years since the Columbine High School, Colorado, incident where first responders were staged outside of the threat area waiting for the security teams to secure the area.
“During the time delay, victims located in other areas of the school needed immediate medical attention and did not receive assistance,” Captain said. “We don’t want this to occur on Schriever AFB.”
Mark Crain, 50th CES fire department driver and operator, said the training highlights the need for first responders to be proactive.
“Unfortunately the world we live in today requires us to train like this,” Crane said. “Working with 50th SFS in this situation is important because it is not a fire we are dealing with, it’s a situation where we can potentially get shot trying to get to victims render aid.”
Schriever AFB Fire and Emergency Services continuously prepares and plans for changes in procedures, including purchasing special protective equipment such as vests and helmets.
Senior Airman Cody Bilgers, 50th SFS standards and evaluation evaluator, who attended the training, said events like this are vital to both organizations.
“We get to see not only what the fire department does, but we also get to practice how we work together,” Bilgers said. “We are able to go over tactics, learn each other’s styles and respond together to save more lives.”
The training was a one-day session conducted five times to train as many responders as possible. Each training day included four hours of classroom training followed by four hours of field exercises.
“The field exercises consisted of practicing various maneuvers to enhance our techniques and tactics when entering an area as a team quickly and as safely as possible to remove victims,” Captain said. “Mr. Pagano stressed it is paramount to get critically wounded patients transported to a hospital and into surgery [if needed] as soon as possible. Meaning, there is no time for fire and medical to stage blocks away waiting for an all clear. We need to be on scene ready to retrieve victims as soon as possible.”
The firefighters and defenders also went through equipment familiarization training for both organizations, increasing their knowledge of each other’s equipment.
“Familiarization of the equipment we use as first responders for more than the active shooter-type incidents is important,” Captain said. “This is just the beginning; we need to continually train together to keep proficient in the procedures learned this week.”