By Twilla Smith
Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs
As part of Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2014 (SC-CS 14) being held Navy wide Feb. 18-28, Naval Hospital Jacksonville and the headquarters of Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) were targets of an "active shooter" workplace violence drill on consecutive days beginning Feb. 19 at the hospital.
NAS Jacksonville Installation Training Officer Jim Butters views this training as crucial.
"Unlike most emergency response incidents, whether they are real-world or exercises, an active shooter incident provides little to no warning - therefore, it is extremely important that all personnel, including first responders, know their respective responsibilities and pre-planned responses."
The active shooter drill on Feb. 20 at CNRSE was one of many such drills occurring at military installations throughout the region during SC-CS 14. Blanks fired inside CNRSE Building 919 created the sound of a real gun. Soon, emergency messages by phone and email alerted military personnel and civilian employees throughout the facility.
For this exercise, CNRSE Force Protection, Operations and Training Departments, the NAS Jacksonville security and fire departments, and members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office all responded to the active shooter scenario.
As the scenario unfolded, CNRSE staff members evacuated in an orderly fashion. Some employees reacted to electronic and telephone notifications, while others heard more simulated gunfire in the building.
Security personnel responded to the scene within minutes, evaluated the situation, and implemented their emergency response procedures.
A "shelter in place" order was issued for all base personnel, including housing residents. Members of NAS Jacksonville's Fleet and Family Support Center staff activated to provide support to military and civilian members and their families.
Once they confirmed that an active shooter was in the building, the combined security force sealed the perimeter and began locating wounded personnel and fatalities. The shooter was eventually located and subdued by security responders. When the shooter had been neutralized and the "all-clear" was passed, fire rescue and emergency medical responders treated the wounded.
"The key to minimizing injuries is the initial notification and alerting mechanisms that are in place - and that was one of our key objectives for the drill conducted today," said Butters.
"The most important job of NAS Jacksonville's security personnel is to neutralize the threat and clear the building so medical response teams can enter. Security's approach is the same regardless of the type of building. The full cooperation and support by CNRSE leadership and staff resulted in a quality exercise from which everyone benefitted," said Butters.
The active shooter scenario was a planned exercise that had the look and feel of a real world event. The exercise was not held in response to a specific threat.
According to Butters, every effort was made to ensure minimal impact to the installation's normal operations.
The Department of Homeland Security website describes an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, typically through the use of firearms. The website also provides a What Can You Do course for the public that can be downloaded at http://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness.