Active shooter exercise at Jack Brooks Airport helps keep passengers safe

Active shooter exercise at Jack Brooks Airport helps keep passengers safe
Active shooter exercise at Jack Brooks Airport helps keep passengers safe

Jack Brooks Regional Airport was surrounded by emergency vehicles and law enforcement, including S.W.A.T on Tuesday, March 17, but not because of a disaster, rather as part of an exercise to prevent and handle emergency situations.

The disaster drill simulated an active shooter in which local law enforcement and federal officers trained on how to handle a hostage situation as required by the Federal Aviation Administration for all commercial airports. 

Airport officials said these drills are key to making sure dangerous situations do not get out of hand.

“It keeps airport personnel on their toes,” said Alex Rupp, airport director. “It is a refresher course. It says here is what is in place, this is what we need to do, and this is what is expected. The more practice you get, the better (you are) at anything you do.”

Airport officials said they have never had a situation like this at Jack Brooks and would much rather practice it than actually have to handle one.

Bernard Giddings, transportation security administration manager, said exercises like the one conducted March 17 at Jack Brooks usually simulate a man demanding to get a flight, and upon refusal, going out to his vehicle to get a weapon. 

“He then will shoot a TSA agent and ultimately take a hostage at the gate while he tries to get on a flight,” Giddings said.

Giddings said TSA agents are trained to “run, hide and fight.” 

“They are supposed to run when the situation starts to get dangerous and hide,” he said. “If they have to they are also trained to fight off an assailant as a last resort.”

The “stand off” took over an hour while local airport security tried to talk the shooter “Bill” out of holding “Jack” hostage, and waiting for S.W.A.T to get into position and ultimately take control of the situation. 

Exercises are done about every two years and are aimed at perfecting emergency situations, and airport employees can never be too prepared, Giddings said.

“Its very important,” he said. “You can never train for this enough.” 

shadow