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366th SFS conducts active shooter exercise while being innovative

The Airman gets ready to engage in the exercise.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Travis Thilmony, 366th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, (left) and Airman 1st Class Matthew Creighton, 366th SFS patrolman, (right) prepare to engage in an active shooter exercise after swapping their service weapons with training equipment, Sept. 15, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The Active Shooter exercise refines the 366th SFS’s ability to respond and engage to an active shooter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

An Airman places another Airman in handcuffs during an active shooter exercise.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Travis Thilmony, 366th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, places subdued Airman 1st Class Nathan Mcmaster, 366th civil engineering squadron emergency management technician, in handcuffs as a part of the active shooter exercise, Sept. 15, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Mcmaster volunteered to play the role of an active shooter in this exercise, which enabled the SFS to react in a real world style training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

The Airman gets a briefing on how they performed in the active shooter exercise.

U.S. Air Force Master. Sgt. Robert DeGoey, 366th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of standardization and evaluation, holds a debrief for an active shooter exercise, Sept. 15, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The active shooter exercise enhances their ability to respond and engage with an active shooter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

The Airman conducts a secondary sweep with K-9 dog as part of the active shooter exercise.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Hailey Goetz, 366th Security Forces Squadron K-9 handler, performs a secondary sweep with military working dog Harry, Sept. 15, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. During a secondary sweep, the SFS Airmen search for any injured victims or combatants so they can administer first aid through the use of tactical combat casualty care. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

The Airman conducts a secondary sweep  as part of the active shooter exercise.

U.S. Air Force 366th Security Forces Squadron Defenders perform a secondary sweep of a training building, Sept. 15, 2020, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Secondary Sweeps are a part of the active shooter exercise, and involves searching for any other possible threats within an area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Akeem K. Campbell)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Tasked to always protect, defend and fight, the 366th Security Forces Squadron Airmen continue to train and come up with innovative ways to enhance their readiness.

“Training is a never-ending process for us,” said Capt. Emily Allen, 366th SFS operations officer. “Anything that we could respond to, we train on. This ranges from the simple routine traffic stop all the way to major accident response exercises.”

The 366th SFS need to maintain constant readiness to respond to an active shooter, and as part of the continued effort to enhance readiness, the 366th SFS conducted an active shooter exercise, Sept. 15, 2020.

“Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to saving lives and neutralizing an immediate threat, timely and effective responses by our Defenders ensures life-saving measures are maximized, said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Talamelli, 366th SFS evaluator.”
The term Defender is a title for all Airmen in the Air Force that works in Security Forces.

According to Allen, the ultimate goal of this exercise is to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible and to provide aid to injured personnel once an active shooter is no longer a threat. To do this it may require Defenders to work alongside fire department, medical personnel and off base agencies.

Before the exercise began, the 366th SFS spent time to make scenarios.

“Each scenario is dynamic and unpredictable in nature and you cannot plan for a specific active shooter incident, so we develop scenarios that mimic real life events and put our people through the scenario as realistically as possible,” Talamelli said.

These exercises are not without its challenges, such as communication. However this is nothing that the 366th SFS was not prepared for.

“Communications will always be one of the biggest challenges in a dynamic situation like an active shooter,” said Master Sgt. Robert DeGoey, 366th SFS non-commissioned officer in charge of standardization and evaluation. “The radio gets busy really fast, so we have ways to mitigate that and communicate as well as we can.”

Despite the challenges, the 366th SFS Airmen skillfully completed the training.

“The exercise was extremely successful,” Allen said. “We had two fire teams in the facility immediately, and the shooter was taken down in four minutes. Communication in and out of the area was effective, and the tactical execution went smoothly. As with all exercises, we found ways to improve procedures and make us even better in the future.”

Though the 366th SFS trains on a daily basis, they strive to train for situations like this more often to maintain tactical proficiency.

“An active shooter exercise is preparing for a worst case scenario,” DeGeoy said. “We hope to never employ the tactics and procedures in a real situation, but if we have to, I hope the base populace understands that we are ready to defend them at all times.”

Even as they completed a successful exercise, their training is not over. The 366th SFS is adapting innovative ways that can aid them in upholding the enhance readiness.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum within the squadron right now,” Allen said. “We are developing the first School Police Emergency Action Response (SPEAR) for Mountain Home, designed to streamline response procedures for schools on base alongside all on-base and off-base emergency responders.”

Their Defense Support Flight is pursuing various test projects with AFWERX Small Business innovation Research (SBIR) that will grow from technological potential into real-world implementation.

They recently succeeded in flying their Blue Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) for the first time, and have the opportunity equip it with facial recognition capabilities.

Whether it’s training for an active shooter or adapting different ways to defend, the 366th SFS will continue boosting their readiness and base defenses by using effective and innovative tactics.

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