By Reggie Jarrett
Editor Jax Air News
In a scenario that was three months in planning and designed to be as realistic as possible, an active shooter drill involving base security personnel, first responders, Sailors and civilians was held aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Feb. 1.
The drill was part of Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2018, an annual weeklong exercise held at all Navy bases in the continental United States.
The cascading drill started when a disgruntled former employee ran the Birmingham Gate then pulled up to the Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) building where he followed an employee in and then began shooting.
"One of the key aspects of these drills is to be realistic," said Capt. Michael Connor, executive officer of NAS Jacksonville and leader of the active shooter drill. "Taking real-world scenarios that have happened in the past, also at the same time being creative and looking for different avenues of attack, different possible vulnerabilities. It's true you cannot prepare for every type of incident, but by training regularly we can achieve better results in execution and have a favorable outcome to the incident."
When the shooting drill started, employees in the building were evacuated and base security personnel entered to apprehend the shooter and search for victims.
In an effort to be realistic, Jim Butters, NAS Jacksonville training officer and coordinator of the drill, applied moulage to building employees who volunteered to be victims. Moulage is the process of applying mock wounds for training purposes.
After the shooter was apprehended, the victims were removed from the building and went through triage process and then were treated by base first responders.
Realism was also a goal for security personnel participating in the drill. They wore StressVests that simulated being shot. "The weapons used in the drill send out a laser and if the laser hits the vest it sends a reaction to the belt which gives me an electrical shock to let me know that I have been shot," said Chris Leonard, a CNRSE instructor who played the shooter in the drill.
Preparation for the drill started three months ago when employees started doing web-based active shooter training. "Now we put it into action and see how employees and staff members react to an active shooter coming into their building," Butters said.
Unfortunately, these types of situations are becoming more common.
"In the past several years, active shooter incidents have become more and more frequent," Connor said. "Certainly the Navy has seen a number of these incidents. It is absolutely critical that the employees understand if there is an active duty scenario what to do if they find themselves in that situation."
The drill leaders were pleased with how it went. "For what the security forces had to get done, all of their objectives were met," Butters said. "The most important thing is that we had no safety issues. That is the key goal in any exercise."
There will be another active shooter drill with a full response later in the year. In addition, from February to May, each building aboard NAS Jacksonville will do an active shooter walk-through.
"An important part of these drills is to evaluate our tactics and our procedures," Connor said. "We look at how we did and see if there are any areas we need to improve upon, so we can make those adjustments for future drills and any real-world incidents."
NAS Jax holds active shooter drill to evaluate tactics and procedures
By Reggie Jarrett