by Senior Master Sgt. J. LaVoie
JBER Public Affairs
11/6/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Though weapons are a common sight in Alaska, only certain people are permitted to carry them on base.
So when hospital staff saw an agitated customer with a loaded weapon and
ammunition, their training kicked in. Immediately, the medical group
team alerted security forces and began to lock down the hospital as they
were trained to do.
"Our priority is getting our patients and staff to safety," said Air
Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Langel, 673d Medical Support Squadron. "We want
to make sure everyone is behind a locked door. The responsibility is
more than just yourself; we have to look out for each other and our
patients. That is a priority when you wear the uniform - you are here to
serve and protect."
Officials said the lockdown went smoothly and complimented the swift
response by the security forces. Langel credits regular training for
the efficient response.
"I think the hospital responded excellently in the situation and I think
training helped greatly," Langel said. "Everybody seemed to know the
proper procedures and took the necessary precautions. It was just like
running a drill, everybody seemed to know the procedure, and it ran
fluidly. A lot of patients were brought to safety, and we've received a
lot of great comments on that."
The incident response from defense forces, who managed to apprehend the suspect with no injuries, was also excellent.
"Here at JBER we train extensively on crisis-response operations, and we
really instill that confident, physically and mentally prepared
mindset," said Air Force Senior Airman Jeffrey Travis, 673d Security
Forces Squadron. "We train more for this type of incident than we do for
anything else. We train for both the mental and physical stress of
responding to this, and how to deal with the public when we respond."
This training and the resulting exceptional response was noted by base leadership during a press conference after the incident.
"I want to thank the medical group and security forces personnel who
quickly reacted to the situation," said Col. Brian Bruckbauer, Joint
Base Elmendorf-Richardson and 673d Air Base Wing commander. "It allowed
emergency responders from both on and off the installation to apprehend
the individual without any harm to personnel. The response was exactly
as we trained and I am proud of everyone who responded."