Static noise blared from the speakers and lights flashed as fog filled the halls of Meade High School during an All Hazard Incident/Crisis Response Training Exercise on Aug. 13.
The exercise, hosted by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, brought agencies together in a realistic training environment. The quarterly training allowed agencies with uniquely different capabilities the opportunity to work together in response to an active-shooter hostage scenario.
Participants included the U.S. Army Special Reaction Teams, which consisted of Soldiers from the 289th Military Police Company and 947th MP Detachment, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard); and Department of the Army civilian police officers from the Fort Meade Directorate of Emergency Services and troopers from the Maryland State Police Department.
The SRTs are specialized military police units trained to respond to crisis situations.
During the exercise, participants were evaluated on their tactical judgment, physical conditioning and overall team effectiveness. Teams must successfully alert, assemble and respond to a high-risk environment.
“The purpose of [the] exercise is to evaluate the participants’ initial response,” said Police Cpl. Shaun Lomax, training officer with the Fort Meade Police Department. “An active shooter is a possible threat to a military installation. This is why it is important we ensure that our officers remain effective.”
During the morning, training focused on the individual teams’ ability to effectively enter the school, clear rooms, evacuate hostages, respond to threats of explosive devices and subdue suspects, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knudson, Fort Meade’s provost marshal and director of the DES.
“The morning portion was just one aspect of it. The collective portion, how [the agencies] all come together, is what we stressed in the afternoon.”
Interagency training events like these are critical to ensure readiness, according to both Knudson and Lomax.
“This training builds on the training we have conducted before,” Knudson said. “It is important that we are able to train with the other tactical teams such as the SRT and Maryland State Police. It allows us to stress the collective aspect to responding to a scenario like this.”
“A lot of times when [the Fort Meade Police] is doing this type of training, it is done independently,” Lomax said. “It is critical that the agencies come together like this and combine the different phases of [responding].”
Conducting the training in a school provided a realistic scenario for the first responders, said Knudson.
“It is a bonus to have the opportunity to get in and train on the grounds of a location we would anticipate an active-shooter scenario,” he said. “The more familiar [first responders] are with the building, the better. We do this type of training to make sure we are always ready to go should the worst ever happen.”
Lomax said the combined training proved beneficial to all of the organizations that participated.
“This was a successful training event and I think that everyone involved benefited,” he said. “It’s absolutely critical that we train together in exercises so that we are ready and able to provide a full-force effort when saving lives.”