In preparation for the 2018 Air Show later this month, Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) held its largest safety drill of the year Sept. 27, which involved six different scenarios and more than 60 people.
“We had six critical elements,” said Training Officer Jim Butters who coordinated the drill. “Typically, we do four. We added in two security pieces.”
The first security element that kicked off the drill was a boat entering the exclusion zone in the St John’s River. NAS Jax worked with the Coast Guard for the mock incursion.
“The Coast Guard wasn’t available to physically come out and run the drill, but our goal was really to work out the communications, where security made contact with the Coast Guard’s Command Center and they went through their procedures and processes over the phone,” Butters said.
The safety drill concluded with the second security element, which was a telephonic bomb threat. A military working dog unit was deployed to search for a suspicious package in Hangar 116.
The remaining four elements were regular parts of the safety drill. The second scenario of the day involved someone falling from a ladder of a static display. The third scenario was an individual with a grease burn at a food vendor. Fourth was someone coming to the medical tent complaining of chest pain. The fifth scenario was a mass casualty incident, which involved a driver of a car becoming medically incapacitated and driving into a crowd of people.
“During this Air Show Mass Casualty Exercise, we are trying to pressurize all of our emergency service capabilities from our fire department to base security to the Naval Hospital,” said NAS Jax Executive Officer Capt. Brian Weiss, who led the drill as Integrated Training Team Leader. “We look for ways to challenge our first responders, providing overlapping scenarios, helping prepare our teams for any eventuality.”
As with other drills held on base, students from Keiser University volunteered to participate as role players. A total of 34 nursing and forensic students played the role of victims and observers.
“Having our students here helps NAS Jax and their efficiency, so we are very happy to contribute,” said Thomas Brady, forensic investigations instructor and former member of Naval Criminal Investigative Service.”
Charlotte McMiller-Green, professor of nursing, said the drill gave her students “a first hand chance to see how patients are triaged according to the seriousness of their injuries during a mass casualty event.”
Despite the seriousness of the drill, some of students took a light-hearted approach. “I had fun with the drill, especially being strapped down on the board,” said LaKenya Bryant, a forensic student who played the victim that fell from the ladder of the P-8 static display. “It gave me a good perspective on being a victim. I knew I was in good hands. They took good care of me. They were a good response team.”
An estimated 300,000 people are expected to attend the Air Show aboard NAS Jax Oct. 27-29.
“We already have fire and medical assets at the Air Show the entire time,” Butters said. So we really concentrate on the medical part and how the Naval Hospital Jax team and the fire department work together.”
Following the drill, Butters said it went well. “The reason it went well is because we identified some areas where we need to improve communications and most importantly, all objectives were completed without any safety issues or concerns. Nobody got hurt.”