By Capt. Mikel Arcovitch
KFOR Regional Command East
The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s (MTN) mantra is ‘Ready to Go.’ Training and repetition are paramount to ensuring Soldiers are ready to respond to a variety of situations.
An active shooter is certainly one of those situations.
Regional Command – East conducted an active shooter exercise on Camp Bondsteel on August 12, 2021 to train Soldiers from a variety of sections with a variety of specialties to ensure readiness in the instance of a real-world active shooter. The exercise included active shooters, casualties, response from the joint operations center, civilian emergency responders, medical personnel, security details, and military police responses.
The call to the joint operations center came just after 9:30 a.m. that there was a simulated active shooter.
Capt. Richard Sugai and Staff Sgt. Jeff Bissonnette were on duty at the battle desk in the JOC to receive the initial call. From there arose a flurry of activity. Soldiers taking notes, gathering information, and making necessary calls to communicate to the appropriate sections.
"Gathering necessary information and maintaining open communication with the forces on the ground is critical to allow us to paint a clear picture of the situation," said Capt. Richard Sugai, battle captain, Regional Command - East. "Having a clear picture ensures we are communicating accurately with all concerned parties. Once the initial call came in and we activated our phone tree, the call to shelter in place and lock down came quickly."
Security surrounded the perimeter of the area where the active shooters were located, and emergency vehicles and military police arrived promptly on scene. Once they arrived, military police quickly assessed the situation and breached the building where the active shooters were located.
“Military Police are trained to move directly to the threat, the 29th MP’s quickly analyzed the situation and neutralized the threat in mere minutes of the initial call,” said Capt. Courtney Slaughter, provost marshal, Regional Command – East. “We train to build muscle memory and condition our Soldiers to think quickly in a high stress environment,” said Slaughter.
Once the threat was neutralized, civilian emergency responders began bringing out the wounded to a casualty collection area. During this time military police also interviewed witnesses from the building to gather as much information as they could. Military ambulances arrived on scene to begin bringing casualties to the medical facility here on Camp Bondsteel. Part of this process included evaluating each of the casualties, and identifying the severity of their wounds.
"All patients arrived to role 1E with appropriate Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) interventions, ensuring life-threatening extremity hemorrhage injuries and airway management had been appropriately treated to standard,” said Capt. John Gagnier, physician’s assistant, Task Force MED, Regional Command – East. “During the initial Golden Hour of care, patients were accessed and treated under the Damage Control Resuscitation principles prior to medical evacuation to higher echelons of care," said Gagnier.
Casualties were then medically evacuated (MEDEVAC) to the medical facility. Once arrived, casualties were taken from the ambulances and more thoroughly evaluated by medical personnel. The wounded actors are each assigned a wound or ailment, and the medical professionals work to cypher the injuries each casualty has incurred based on their perceived symptoms.
Wounded personnel are then brought in to the hospital for treatment based on the severity of their wounds. Inside the hospital there is activity everywhere as patients are transported and treated. Mortuary affairs is contacted for those that are deceased upon arrival or if they should succumb to their wounds. The Regional Command – East Chaplain, Maj. Eric Stuepfert, is also available as a resource for the casualties.
A lot of resources. A lot of time planning and executing. Why do this?
“This exercise maximized our coordination and planning with all parties on Camp Bondsteel,” said Col. Brey Hopkins, commander, Regional Command – East. “The support and participation from AAFES, ASG-Balkans, Contractors, CBS fire department, our multi-national partners and the entire RC-East team ensured that we exercised every muscle movement from incident location through transport to higher level medical care,” said Hopkins. “Exercises such as these are instrumental to our success and seamless execution in the event a real world event occurs.”