WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Following the deadly shooting at Fort Hood Wednesday, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Commander Col. Cassie Barlow remains confident that local airmen and employees are prepared for this type of emergency situation.
The recent shooting revived memories of the November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history where 13 people were killed and more than 30 were wounded. In September 2013, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide.
Col. Barlow stated Thursday that no security changes would be made and that only the Air Force security forces can carry weapons on base.
“The safety and security of our workforce of 27,000 employees at WPAFB is of utmost importance to all of us,” she said. “Every airman and civilian on this installation has a role in making Wright-Patterson a safe and secure place to work. In order to do that we conduct regular training and exercises on active-shooter scenarios to ensure that our workforce is prepared for any event.”
Airmen go through professional screenings after returning from deployment to determine if there is any lingering psychological trauma, such as depression and anxiety.
“We are focused on assisting people that are in need and after 10 years of doing this we know what to look for and we also train coworkers on what to look for, like acute stress and those type of things,” said Barlow.
The leadership on WPAFB relies heavily on the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness model, which focuses on not only physical but mental, spiritual and social fitness.
“It’s basically all about resilience, and all about the fact that the Air Force is a family and we take care of each other,” said Barlow. “Those are the ways in which we try to help our airmen get through tough times that they may be having…We encourage airmen to reach out to friends and coworkers who can help them, who can get them to the right help, so we don’t get into an emergency situation.”
If there were to be an active-shooter emergency, procedures are also in place to handle the aftermath of such an event. Security forces were be the first to respond followed by firefighters and EMTs. There are also traumatic stress teams to assist the peopledirectly involved in the incident.
Barlow believes the results of the Fort Hood shooting investigation could help other military installations in their preparations.
“After the investigation there will be a lot of lessons learned, I’m sure, that will be shared across the Department of Defense. At that point we’ll be able to, maybe, pinpoint what the issues were,” she said.
The Association Press contributed to this story.