Defenders drill to eliminate active shooter

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Ingold
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. – An Airman wielding an M-16 training rifle creeps behind a cabinet in the 20th Security Forces Squadron building. As beads of sweat drip down his face, a smile breaks out; his target has not noticed his entrance. He steadies his sights on the hostile and utters a sharp “BANG”! The threat is eliminated.

The 20th SFS conducted an active shooter training drill inside their headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Jan. 31.

“It is important for us to be ready and react to active shooters like Columbine and Fort Hood,” said Raymond Owens, 20th Security Forces Squadron trainer. “All the active shooters in the Air Force have been insider threats, which means they have already had access to the base and were military uniform-wearers. The better we can react, the better we can save lives.”

A response to an active shooter on Shaw is a multiple-team effort, said Owens. The 20th SFS worked with the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department first responders to shorten the time wounded victims wait to receive medical attention.

“We are looking at how we incorporate emergency medical services and fire into joint responses to get them to the scene to save lives sooner,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Gaskins, 20th SFS operations support staff NCO. “Our part as security forces is to get there, eliminate the threat and secure the area. Once we get the threat down and are looking for secondary threats, we can escort medical to get them to the victims.”

The 20th SFS reminds Team Shaw members to run first, hide if safe escape is not possible and to fight as a last resort in the case of an active shooter.

This is the crawl stage of the crawl, walk and run progression for fire and medical involvement in active shooter drills, said Owens. The 20th SFS is scheduled for additional active shooter training with increased involvement from other first response organizations at Shaw over the next few months.

After the dust had settled and the final sweeps were finished, the players reconvened in the training office. The primary objective was achieved, but the trainers found room for improvement in their execution. The 20th SFS will continue drilling and practicing because one day, lives may be on the line.