MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE -- The sound of bullets rang through the air and when the dust settled, 21 people were left wounded or killed, hostages were taken, and hours of negotiations passed by aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, April 3.
This was all part of a training scenario where three roleplaying active shooters roamed through the hospital point area testing the training and response of the base personnel and safety measures as part of the base’s Urgent Response exercise for 2014.
“The tragedy at Ft. Hood underscores the importance and absolute necessity to regularly conduct this type of training to ensure the safety and protect the lives of those who live and train here every day,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Castellvi, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East. “Operation Urgent Response was a great opportunity to review and refine our emergency response procedures in the event something similar were to happen here aboard Camp Lejeune. The recurring nature of these tragic events remind us all that we continue to live in uncertain times and need to remain vigilant and ready to respond quickly, decisively and comprehensively. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fort Hood community, the victims and their families who’ve been affected by this senseless shooting.”
The exercise tested the reporting of the crime, response time of personnel to lock down the base, actions of the Provosts Marshals Office and the effectiveness of the mass notification systems, called Giant Voice and AtHoc.
Maj. Tito Jones, deputy director of operations and planning for Security and Emergency Services Division for Marine Corps Installations East, said the exercise allows the base to practice and test their ability to respond to a mass casualty event and ensure they can perform adequately in an actual emergency.
“It’s very important to have these exercises, because it tests our response abilities,” said Jones. “This is about the fourth consecutive month of our planning and coordination of staff from across the base to make all of this work. It’s no easy task.”
The Marines, sailors and personnel aboard the base have to be trained in the event there is a shooter and he or she is one of our own, Jones added.
“These things happen frequently, as we saw recently at Ft. Hood,” said Jones. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of that tragedy, but this training is necessary for us to test our abilities as first responders.”
Evaluators were spread across the area to record a time¬line of events and judge the actions of PMO, emergency medical services and other essential personnel. Shortly after two gunmen barricaded themselves into building H21, negotiations began to get hostages released.
Upon arrival, EMS began evaluating and tagging victims based on severity of injury. Higher priority cases were sent to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard base to test doctors and corpsman’s ability to process and treat a mass casualty situation.
Martin Summerville, emergency department supervisor for NHCL, said they use moulage, complex makeup and latex wounds, to create realistic wounds because it provides the best training environment.
“Because of the fast actions and training of our staff, we were able to initially triage and evaluate many of the victims almost immediately upon their arrival,” said Summerville. “The most difficult part of treating a mass casualty is dealing with the stress and anxiety of what happened.”
Although it was an exercise, the NHCL staff involved was able to process and treat the victims and was able to identify the areas of improvement needed for further train¬ing and real-life scenarios, added Summerville.
The exercise served as an opportunity to evaluate all aspects of emergency response in a real-world scenario and prepared the participants should one ever occur aboard base in the future.
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