Static noise blared from the speakers and lights flashed as fog filled the halls of Meade High School during an All Hazard Incident/Crisis Response Training Exercise Aug. 13.
The exercise, hosted by the Army Military District of Washington, brought agencies together in a realistic training environment. The quarterly training allowed agencies with uniquely different capabilities the opportunity to work together in response to an active-shooter hostage scenario.
Participants included the Army Special Reaction Teams, which consisted of soldiers from the 289th Military Police Company and 947th MP Detachment, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard); and Department of the Army civilian police officers from the Fort Meade Directorate of Emergency Services and troopers from the Maryland State Police Department.
The SRTs are specialized military police units trained to respond to crisis situations.
During the exercise, participants were evaluated on their tactical judgment, physical conditioning and overall team effectiveness. Teams must successfully alert, assemble and respond to a high-risk environment.
“The purpose of (the) exercise is to evaluate the participants’ initial response,” said Police Cpl. Shaun Lomax, training officer with the Fort Meade Police Department. “An active shooter is a possible threat to a military installation. This is why it is important we ensure that our officers remain effective.”
During the morning, training focused on the individual teams’ ability to effectively enter the school, clear rooms, evacuate hostages, respond to threats of explosive devices and subdue suspects, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knudson, Fort Meade’s provost marshal and director of the DES.
Interagency training events like these are critical to ensure readiness, Knudson and Lomax said.
“This training builds on the training we have conducted before,” Knudson said. “It is important that we are able to train with the other tactical teams such as the SRT and Maryland State Police. It allows us to stress the collective aspect to responding to a scenario like this.”
“A lot of times when (the Fort Meade Police) is doing this type of training, it is done independently,” Lomax said. “It is critical that the agencies come together like this and combine the different phases of (responding).”
Conducting the training in a school provided a realistic scenario for the first responders, said Knudson.
“It is a bonus to have the opportunity to get in and train on the grounds of a location we would anticipate an active-shooter scenario,” he said. “The more familiar (first responders) are with the building, the better. We do this type of training to make sure we are always ready to go should the worst ever happen.”
Lomax said the combined training proved beneficial to all of the organizations that participated.
“It’s absolutely critical that we train together in exercises so that we are ready and able to provide a full-force effort when saving lives,” he said.
Throughout the summer, Leslie Wightman juggled a part-time fellowship with classes and job training, while raising four children.
Next month, Wightman will start her job as a technical recruiter at IntelliGenesis LLC.
“I think (this job) is really beneficial for me because it’s helped me to learn more about the industry,” she said.
With her youngest ready to begin full-time preschool, Wightman decided to re-enter the workforce.
Shauna Donahue, director of Military Corps Career Connect, or C3, noted the high unemployment rate among military spouses. According to CBSnews.com, 12 percent of military spouses face unemployment — nearly three times the national rate.
Nevertheless, Wightman took her bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems from Virginia Commonwealth University and landed a fellowship last month. Her journey back into information technology — cyber security to be exact — began with a quick online job search that led her to a Hiring Our Heroes reception sponsored by C3.
After the event, C3 reached out to her about its Career Restart Workshop.
“That was a very beneficial program to go to,” Wightman said. “While I was going through the workshop, some people (from IntelliGenesis) contacted me about the fellowship.”
Wightman recently completed the last day of the six-week fellowship. Her first day as a full-time recruiter is Sept. 4.
Wightman attributes her success to C3, saying their networking and training assistance helped her attain the position at IntelliGenesis.
Two years ago, the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation received a $4.3 million grant. The grant, which was the second of its kind to support military families, was used to start the C3 initiative for the Fort Meade community.
The program is a combination of three workforce agencies, and transitions service members into the workforce and active-duty spouses into full- or part-time employment. Spouses and service members are assisted through job training, paid work experiences, networking and certification courses.
Donahue and Wightman praised IntelliGenesis CEO Angie Lienert for her willingness to help military spouses and veterans. Wightman commended her new boss for her flexibility in scheduling a full-time mother of four.
“Angie has been a great supporter of this (initiative),” Donahue said. “She’s a veteran and she wants to give back.”
Angie Bevels, a military spouse who connected with C3 in May, took online courses to help her prepare for her new position as a full-time executive office assistant at Vehicles for Change in June.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “(C3) helped me get back into the workforce after I’ve worked from home for many years, moving a lot and having kids.
“I felt that (C3) gave me that extra shot (at a job) that I might not have had out there on my own.”
- By Cody Davis
Compiled by staff of the Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs office. For more information about what is happening on Fort Meade, visit www.ftmeade.army.mil and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ftmeade.