Naval Air Station Patuxent River police Cpl. Christopher Byrd, left, and police Patrolman Paul Green respond during the Active Shooter exercise Oct. 29 in the Logistics and Industrial Complex (LIC). Behind Byrd is NAS police Capt. James Williams who was an observer and trainer during the event in buildings 448 and 449. (U.S. Navy photo by Gary Younger/released)
Patuxent River, MD — With unfortunate regularity, people are becoming victims more and more to mass shooting violence. To train for such an incident, Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River conducted an Active Shooter training scenario Oct. 29 to gauge reaction and response to a possible actual event.
The event, the third of its kind at NAS Patuxent River in recent months, lasted about two hours and took place in the Logistics and Industrial Complex (LIC) in Building 448, home to Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), and Building 449, Naval Air Systems Command Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air 6.0) headquarters.
“Real-life active-shooter events are, unfortunately, becoming all too common,” said Capt. Eric Simon, COMFRC chief of staff. “The safety of our people is important. Not only do our leaders need to know how to take care of their teammates, but our employees need to know how to take of themselves as well. Our people are every bit as important as our mission, if not more so.”
According to the scenario, two disgruntled COMFRC employees shot several employees in buildings 448 and 449. NAS Patuxent River police officers apprehended the “suspects” without incident in the Building 449 conference room. Installation emergency medical services personnel were then allowed to enter the buildings to evacuate and treat “victims.”
Notified of the exercise in advance, employees received instruction on how to react to active shooters by watching the “Run. Hide. Fight.” training video, which emphasizes appropriate responses to an active-shooter incident in an office environment.
“As expected with any drill of this magnitude, we discovered a few deficiencies, but the overall response by the workforce was excellent,” said Chris Brugman, COMFRC command security manager. “Training and security briefings are important and are intended to familiarize members of our workforce with these threats and get them to start thinking about what they would do should they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation. However, by conducting a realistic exercise with simulated shooters using blank ammunition and having emergency responders show up, it takes everything to a whole-different level.”
The FBI defines “active shooters” as a person or people “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people” in a “populated area.” That is different from mass-shooting incidents, which include any shooting in which more than three people are killed.
Active shooter events almost always receive media attention.
On Oct. 22, a gunman killed a Canadian soldier standing guard at the Canada War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada, before heading to the nearby parliament building and being killed by a sergeant-at-arms. Two days later at a high school north of Seattle, Washington, a teenage gunman killed three students and wounded three others before killing himself.
Closer to the NAS Pax community, the Washington Navy Yard experienced tragedy when a civilian contractor killed 12 employees and injuring eight others at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters on Sept. 16, 2013, before being killed by police.
Incidents such as them make it imperative that the NAS Pax River workforce and leadership remain vigilant.
“The support of COMFRC HQ leadership throughout this process was critical,” Brugman said. “By prioritizing active participation in the month-long security education and training effort we put together leading up to the drill, the entire command took this seriously. More importantly, everyone learned something.”