• MAHC practices emergency response

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Munson Army Health Center hosted an active-shooter exercise for military police and staff Nov. 8 in Gentry Clinic and the main MAHC building. The exercise consisted of four 15-minute iterations with the first and second iterations dealing with a single active shooter and the third and fourth iterations dealing with two active shooters.
    Before the iterations took place, Paul Bihler, MAHC security manager, briefed military police on how the scenarios would work, including who would portray the shooters, who would be responding to the active-shooter — Code White — call and who would be standing guard at the entrances during the exercise to keep patients from entering the buildings. He also emphasized the FBI-trained “Run, Hide, Fight” to practice throughout the exercise.
    “Fight is last resort. Fight is you’ve been trapped, you’re discovered and you need to get out of that and so you’re going to fight,” Bihler told participants. “That’s the only time you’re going to fight, but you’ve got to prevent (fight).”
    Bihler said the purpose of the exercise is to get staff prepared if there ever was an active shooter situation.
    “We’re trying to get the staff to think about being in the worst-case scenario and what they individually can do should that take place,” Bihler said.
    Two years ago, MAHC did one long exercise that included firefighters coming in along with law enforcement, Bihler said; however, this exercise had a different purpose.
    “This time the focus is more on multiple iterations so that we can make sure everybody gets a chance to have to take some sort of action and not just sit in their office locked,” Bihler said. “Then we do a quick hot wash and say, ‘Hey, you had this option available or this option available,’ and then reset and do it again. Then, they can go individually at some sort of progression saying ‘OK, I learned something, let me try that the next time.’”
    Spc. Stephanie Mayorga, pharmacy technician, Medical Department Activity, said the main goal is for staff to be prepared.
    “(The goal is) to ensure that our staff knows how to handle proper conduct when a code has been announced, such as an active shooter, Code White or an external threat, which is Code Violet,” Mayorga said. “To make sure the staff knows how to take care of the patients if they are there, what to do with all the other staff members, how to seek cover, how to take precaution (and) how to stay safe is really the ultimate goal.”
    Bihler said the multiple iterations gave responders and staff an opportunity to learn how to better handle a unique situation because it allowed them to do something different every time.
    Page 2 of 2 - “In run, hide, fight, which is what we train, you don’t want to run down the hallway to try and get away, but then you’re running into the shooter,” Bihler said. “That’s a bad idea, so you run, but you run smart.”
    Karl Koob, supervisory medical records administration specialist who portrayed a “victim” in the exercise, said he felt prepared by the end of the exercise.
    “I felt that I had been prepared for most potential scenarios and felt quite comfortable with the activities as the exercise began,” Koob said. “I did not count on people having keys to the offices, which I felt was unpredictable. I think shooters would go for maximum damage or go for a specific target.”
    Koob said he felt the sound effects throughout the exercise helped the scenario feel more real.
    “I did appreciate the real sounds associated with this event because it did add to the realism and shock value for the exercise,” Koob said.
    Bihler said success is found just as much in the training as it is in the results.
    “Any time the staff are afforded the opportunity to take part in realistic training, I believe that it is a success,” Bihler said. “I have had several people come talk to me about things they learned, things they hadn’t thought of before and suggestions for improvement in our operations.”
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