Troop D Commander Major Bruce Gordon and other State Police personnel review building diagrams with military and security personnel during an active-shooter drill at the Pave PAWS radar site at the Cape Cod Air Force Station in Sagamore. Photo by MSgt Scott Crossman, 6 SWS First Sergeant.
State Police Special Tactical Operations (STOP) team members, partnering with U.S. and Canadian forces from the 6th Space Warning Squadron, as well as State Police Sergeant Robert McCarthy and his K-9 partner Xander, tracked a simulated sniper during a drill inside the Pave PAWS radar facility. Photo by MSgt Scott Crossman, 6 SWS First Sergeant.
MSP Personnel Participate in Crisis-Response Drill at Cape Cod Air Force Station
On Feb. 24 at the Cape Cod Air Force Station Pave PAWS radar site in Sagamore, members of the Massachusetts State Police joined other police, emergency and military agencies for a crisis response drill. The exercise was hosted by the 6th Space Warning Squadron to strengthen working relationships based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS), a policy instituted after Sept. 11, 2001 by Presidential directive. The system provides a consistent nationwide approach for federal, state and local governments to work together to prepare for, respond to and recover from domestic incidents. The NIMS includes a core set of concepts, principles, terminology and technologies, as well as multi-agency coordination systems, unified command, training, identification and management of resources, qualifications and certification, and the collection, tracking and reporting of incident information and incident resources.
Thematically, the drill responded to an active shooter scenario, with an employee simulating sniper attacks on staff at Cape Cod Air Force Station.
"Our exercise was very successful, and gives us confidence that we are postured correctly to quickly resolve unique security situations," said Lt. Col. Max Lantz, commander of the 6th Space Warning Squadron. "We are committed to providing the highest level of security for Cape Cod Air Force Station, and our close working relationship with the Bourne Police and Fire Departments, as well as Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Military Reservation Fire Department, Coast Guard, Massachusetts National Guard and the FBI is critical to that endeavor."
Tag-teaming as incident commanders were 6th Space Warning Squadron Security Force's TSgt Allen Shank as first on-scene, followed by Massachusetts Military Reservation Fire Department Captain Todd Beaulieu, accompanied by Firefighter Sean Dion, who came to perform medical triage.
"We applied the whole NIMS, specifically employing the unified command structure, planning, logistics, intelligence, medical and emergency management resources," said Captain Beaulieu. "If today's event hadn't been a drill, Bourne Fire Department would've been first responders, but they had real world responsibilities to take care of today."
The Massachusetts State Police sent many specialists from across the Commonwealth. The Troop D commander, Major Bruce Gordon, along with Captain Thomas Majenski and Sergeant James Marquis, brought years of experience and broad regional perspective. "Today's effort sharpened our NIMS preparedness for critical incidents that could happen at this base, or any other place in the Commonwealth," Captain Majenski said.
Captain Scott Berna, commander of the State Police Tactical Operations Section, and Sergeant Aaron Washington, commander of the section's Special Tactical Operations (STOP) team, brought several specialists, including command coordinators Sergeant Pardo Montagano and Troopers Jeffrey Lenti and Jerome Cronin. They partnered with six Space Warning Squadron security forces to organize operations, secure the area and apprehend the role-playing sniper.
"It's a team effort," said Sergeant Washington. "One team won't be successful by themselves; that only happens in the movies!"
The State Police Bourne Barracks and Bourne Police Department arrived within minutes as the primary law enforcement response team for the Cape Cod Air Force Station. Lieutenant John Paulo, commander of the Bourne barracks, expressed pride in the performance of Troopers Cardoza, Kiley and Doyle, who are assigned permanently to Massachusetts Military Reservation patrol, and of Sergeant Robert McCarthy, a State Police K-9 handler, and his dog, Xander. Bourne Police Detective Michael Kelley and Officer Wendy Noyes were right in the heat of action, as part of the facility entrance team and by securing the building for foot traffic coming and going from secured areas.
"Today we responded with assets tailored to this active shooter scenario," Lt. Paulo said. "In other situations, we'd support with appropriate assets, such as our Air Wing, Crime Scene Services Section, investigative units, and explosives detection units from the State Fire Marshall's office. We also have a Marine Unit. It's important to establish a protocol with which everyone's familiar, so as soon as you get there, you know what to do. We're currently planning a similar exercise with Otis Air National Guard Base. This is good NIMS practice."
Steve Mellin, support officer for the 6th Space Warning Squadron, wore several hats during this NIMS drill, most significantly as liaison between responding forces and Cape Cod Air Force Station. 6th SWS Captain Skip Sheehan was in charge of evaluating how smoothly the Pave PAWS operations crews integrated the crisis with ensuring the radar's mission effectiveness.
"I applaud everyone's efforts to show up, some of you no-notice," said Master Sergeant Dave Goins, overall exercise coordinator, in wrapping up the event. "Everybody reacted quickly, with tight teamwork, resulting in minimal simulated injuries or deaths. Years of training, as individual units and through unified command operations like this, prove invaluable for our team interactions when every second, every life counts."