Emergency Responders Test Response Capabilities on Military Installation

A full scale emergency response exercise was executed in September by the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) in Arlington, Virginia. September is Emergency Preparedness Month. The goal of the exercise was to test the emergency preparedness of the military installation including its recovery resources and response capability.

In the exercise, a mock gunmen opened fire at a national conference hosted at the Headquarters of the Marine Corps Supply Office. The topic at the conference was: Improving JBM-HH security based on its role for the upcoming 58th Presidential Inauguration. Law enforcement arrived on the scene in just minutes during the exercise, assembled a cordon and neutralized the threat.

An emergency operations center (EOC) was assembled and a lockdown simulated at various installations in the National Capital Region, including JBM-HH. “This is the world that we live in now, and everyone has to be prepared,” said JBM-HH Police chief of operations, Lt. Troy Dennison.

The exercise included coordinating efforts with fire department and law enforcement officials in a unified command center. Scott Gould, JBM-HH Battalion Fire Chief called the exercise “rehearsed chaos,” but added that these exercises put all their training to the test.

Capt. Jason Hazzard added that full scale exercises like the one conducted require refined procedures in dealing with active shooters.

Malanya Westmoreland, an emergency management specialist involved in the exercise, said that the team was required to execute 30 capabilities, including emergency public safety, mass care, and information sharing.

Full-scale exercises like this one are aimed at testing response capabilities but are also used to make everyone more alert. Tom Smith, an officer on the joint-base said that trainings take place a couple of times a year to keep staff prepared for such a situation. Fellow officer Dijibril Diallo added that the staff can never be too prepared for an active shooter situation.