A wise man once said “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” The saying might also be true of emergency preparedness.
Response to a report of a shooter Wednesday at Travis Air Force Base got high marks, and although the threat turned out to be a false alarm, the responders did not know it at the time and mobilized to action efficiently and purposefully, officials there said.
Although the alarm was a coincidence, the fact that the base was staying prepared was not. Base first responders had "heightened awareness" due to the fact of the planned drill, said 1st Lt. Geneva Croxton.
“These exercises show how capable our responders are,” she added.
A significant component of the base’s emergency response protocol depends on community connection and cooperation. Teamwork with local law enforcement was a big part of Wednesday’s response that preempted the planned drill.
“That’s something that’s been important to us over time,” Croxton said. “We want to be active in our family, and any chance to exercise with them, train with them is really important.”
Cooperation goes both ways and works best with people and organizations that are already friends, she said. One way the base makes friends with its community is through its Honorary Commanders program. Honorary Commanders include city officials, medical providers, local police and fire and business, who are taken on flights and familiarized with base operations.
Whether it’s helping local agencies with the use of police dogs or getting out in the community to support overseas combatants, Travis AFB welcomes and even cherishes opportunities to make connections.
“Our ability to engage globally starts at the roots of that local community,” she said.
NorthBay Medical Center is just one of those community partners, and frequently works with Travis on scheduled drills, although it was not involved in Wednesday’s exercise.
All Solano County hospitals are interconnected and coordinate on health care issues and health care drills, including those involving active shooters, said Lee Keolbasa, emergency management coordinator for NorthBay Medical Center.
“We’ve done active shooter training… not that we feel the threat is exceptionally high – because of what has been found in actual incidents, people who have been pre-trained do better,” he said. Workers who have been trained know better what to do, where to go, and how best to protect vulnerable patients.
NorthBay has a close relationship with Travis and its hospital, the David Grant Medical Center, because of its shared mission and enhanced by the fact that many employees there are retired from the U.S. Air Force.
Travis AFB has not released the details of the incident that triggered Wednesday’s false alarm, but Croxton said it’s never a mistake to make a report of anything that appears suspicious or dangerous.
“It’s always better to be overly safe… making sure our families of our airmen feel safe,” she said. “…We take every security incident seriously here.”
The most important thing people can do to protect themselves is pay attention to their surroundings.
“I would say just being aware of your surroundings when you’re out – don’t just be staring at your phone and if you do see something, contact law enforcement,” Croxton said.