Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles that will provide information on how to prepare for the upcoming installation full-scale exercise Nov. 19-20.
Gates and buildings at White Sands Missile Range will be on lockdown for up to one hour during an active shooter exercise within the installation Nov. 19.
Director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Gerry Veara asks residents and community members who have scheduled morning appointments to be out of the gate before 8:30 a.m. The gates will be locked any time between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. The gates will be opened no later than 10 a.m.
“What we want people to know is when the shooting starts the gates will be locked down. We want to give people as much advance warning so they can plan their day around it,” Veara said.
According to Veara, the initial response phase of the exercise will not last more than an hour. This means that facilities and organizations will need to be on lockdown for no more than an hour. The exercise was also timed to ensure that children are in school or daycare before it begins to avoid them seeing any part of the exercise that they may perceive as real.
“The point is to not disrupt everyone’s day; it is to evaluate our exercise objectives,” Veara said.
In addition to the gates being closed, community members will be required to fully participate in lockdown procedures during the exercise on Nov. 19. Organizations will be evaluated by observer controllers on their response to the mass warning notification system, success of their lockdown procedures, and emergency action plans.
“You don’t get to say I’m not playing because I don’t feel like it,” Veara said.
E-mails were distributed to the workforce earlier this month in order for organizations to develop emergency action plans unique to their buildings. This article will also be followed by a series of articles that will provide a brief summary of important information the community should know and practice for the day of the full-scale exercise.
“It took me more than an hour to do online travel training so I expect people to take at least that much time to take care of themselves and others during an active shooter situation,” Veara said.
A table top exercise took place on Sept. 24 to help prepare for the logistics of the full-scale exercise. That exercise will be followed by a functional exercise on Oct. 23, which will allow the community to refine their lockdown procedures and emergency action plans. During this time the mass warning notification system, facility lockdown and Emergency Operations Center recall rooster will be tested. This will be a good time for organizations to practice their lockdown procedures following the mass warning notification system.
“As you can well imagine; if I’m sitting there in front of my computer and there is something that comes up about an active shooter…it will be utter chaos. It will be a fairly realistic event,” Veara said. “There’s going to be nothing clean about the way this goes down so everyone needs to know ahead of time how they will be warned and how they need to respond to that warning.”
“To think that it won’t happen here is naïve. I’ m asking you for an hour of your time to take care of yourself and your people,” Veara added.