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Drill puts soldiers on alert
Real-world complications coincide wtih exercise
Emergency medical technicians treat a “victim” during the active shooter exercise as military police soldiers from the 385th MP Battalion and training coordinators look on. - photo by Photo by Kevin Larson, Fort Stewart PAO
Fort Stewart held its first active shooter scenario Friday during a planned emergency exercise that locked down the installation. However, a happenstance real life power outage that occurred just prior to the exercise served to further train public safety personnel on post.
“Today’s exercise was a success; our military police responded and stopped the attacker,” 3rd Infantry Division deputy commander general-rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “Those who participated learned directly; further, we will share lessons throughout our law enforcement community.”  
Phillips said installation leaders made safety a priority — for those who participated in the exercise and those who live and work on post.  The exercise was conducted “in a secure facility distant from residential and school areas,” he said. 
Gates were closed during the exercise, which began at 11 a.m., and remained closed until the fictitious shooter was apprehended.
“We train like we fight. As part of the exercise, we implemented security measures at installation access points as fully as possible,” the general said. “Consequently, some people may have experienced delays at the gates. We apologize for any inconvenience and trust that our intent today will be understood, and the value of the exercise recognized by those we are charged to safeguard.”
The directorates of Emergency Services and Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security facilitated the exercise. Military police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel coordinated their response efforts.
“It (the power outage) added to the chaos, to the realism,” Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Meddleten said. Meddleten was the military police officer credited for “taking down” the active shooter during the exercise.
“We had wonderful real-world response to the real events today and to the exercise,” Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton said.
Fort Stewart experienced two glitches on Friday the 13th. The aforementioned power outage set off fire alarms and blacked out traffic lights, and one of the exercise’s 911 calls was received by the Liberty County Public Safety Communications Center, Milton said.
The initial exercise cell phone call was not preceded by the words, “exercise, exercise, exercise,” the colonel said.
This call supposedly came from a soldier’s distraught wife who was concerned when her husband left home angry and with a handgun, he explained. Milton said the installation’s gates remained open for that part of the exercise. He said when this type of call comes in, a BOLO (be on the lookout) normally is sent out. The colonel said military police would watch at post gates for a car matching the BOLO’s description.
The second call, which advised the fictitious attacker had holed up in a post facility, was identified as being an exercise and not an actual emergency, Milton said.
The power outage produced several challenges in addition to inoperable lights and alarms, Milton said. Building 620 was evacuated earlier Friday when workers smelled smoke and several people in building 621 got stuck in an elevator, the colonel said.
Along with handling these surprise real-world events before the exercise began, the garrison commander was charged with planning the exercise itself. He said the exercise was based on lessons learned from past tragedies such as the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado and the Virginia Tech shooting.
Meddleten said police now are trained in non-traditional tactics learned from those terrible events. The goal, he said, is for police to reach an armed attacker before he (or she) can injure more people.
“Unfortunately, we do bypass the wounded in order to minimize the attack,” Meddleten said. “You are never 100 percent positive there’s only one shooter.”
This past January, Fort Stewart conducted an emergency response exercise titled “2009 Stewart Guardian.” This terrorism scenario involved a plane hijacking and a dirty bomb.
Milton said these types of exercises could be held quarterly. He said planning for Friday’s exercise began before a suspicious package found at a Hunter Army Airfield clinic shut down that installation two weeks ago.

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