Active-shooter exercise enhances garrison readiness

U.S.  Army Garrison Stuttgart tested its emergency response and antiterrorism capabilities by conducting a full-scale, all-hazards exercise on Patch Barracks Sept. 22, 2012.

During Stallion Shake 2012, the garrison tested various aspects of its emergency management plan to include communications, random antiterrorism measures, intelligence information sharing and intelligence analysis.

Using an active-shooter scenario, the exercise was designed to not only test the garrison’s defense and response capabilities, but the city of Stuttgart’s first responders as well.

“Stallion Shake enables us to work with our German partners — law enforcement and first responders —  and integrate them into our plans, since we really do work hand and glove with the Germans in terms of security,” said Col. John P. Stack, the USAG Stuttgart commander.

With the five USAG Stuttgart installations located in different German law enforcement and emergency responder jurisdictions, rotating the location of the annual exercise becomes crucial, according to Ron Kirkemo, the garrison’s emergency manager. Last year, Stallion Shake took place on Panzer Kaserne, with Böblingen fire and police units — a first.

This year, the exercise on Patch Barracks was another first, and allowed garrison officials to become familiar with several new first-responder organizations.
More than 200 host nation emergency responders participated from the Polizeipräsidium Stuttgart (Stuttgart police headquarters), Branddirektion Stuttgart (Stuttgart Fire Department headquarters), Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross), the Deutsche Lebens Rettungs Gesellschaft (German Lifeguard Association), Malteser and Johanniter (emergency medical service providers), according to Kirkemo, who planned and coordinated the exercise.

On the U.S. side, more than 50 volunteers — including Boy Scouts from Troop 44 — served as role players, many of them as casualties.

While an exercise based on an active-shooter is relevant and gives military police the opportunity to train on their response, Kirkemo said the scenario could have been almost anything in order to produce mass casualties for first responders to provide medical care and triage. Numerous casualties were needed to put Stuttgart Fire Department’s new triage system to the test.

“This exercise was the first time that Stuttgart was able to utilize and triage patients using the START (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment) system,” Kirkemo said. The system is specifically designed for mass casualty incidents, he added.
START relies on making a rapid assessment of each patient in less than a minute, determining which of four categories patients should be in, and visibly identifying the categories for rescuers who will treat the patients, according to Florian Goedde, the assistant chief of Stuttgart’s fire operations branch.

After the exercise concluded, Goedde gave the garrison commander an up-close look at one of the fire department’s mobile clinics, capable of treating and transporting up to eight patients, and its new triage equipment.

“Another benefit of this exercise is that it also helps us to understand the capabilities that exist within the Stuttgart fire and police departments … and they bring a significant amount,” Stack said.