MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Emergency workers came to the rescue Sept. 13 in handling a mock large-scale disaster near the Air Rescue Firefighting Facility here.
Rescue officials from the military and city government responded to several simulated disaster scenarios, including bomb disposal and chemical outbreaks. More than 90 volunteers filled the base’s flight line and Boondocker Training Facility to act out potential emergencies. First responders treated volunteers for mock injuries on site and at Castle Medical Center.
“Our volunteers are Marines and Sailors,” said Jacqueline Freeland, Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection officer, G-3 Training and Operations, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “We also had a few family members participate.”
Some volunteers received role-playing cards listing symptoms they needed to act out. Rescue workers needed to transport patients to medical stations where their injuries were diagnosed. Other volunteers had specific occupations, such as city mayor or civilian media, to practice how well first responders worked with other organizations.
Observers and exercise controllers monitored the asset placement, said 1st Lt. Christopher Anderson, air show security coordinator, Military Police Department, MCBH. Anderson said they examined how well personnel and equipment worked to ensure the safety of base visitors and residents.
“First responders didn’t act out of the ordinary for the scenario,” he said. “They responded to each call, applying the necessary procedure. It’s always good to see them push through a scenario with all of the confusion.”
Freeland said these yearly exercises are part of the continual training for base personnel, and Thursday’s large-scale scenario took five to six months to plan. She said the goal of the exercise was to build on the existing communication and cooperation between agencies.
She said responders practiced multiple techniques in crowd control, and the drill tested how communication worked between base personnel in a chaotic environment. Overlapping disasters heightened the need for clear information, and Freeland said agencies worked together in sharing resources for problem solving.
Staged at the Boondocker Training Facility, a mock plane crash tested reactions from firefighters with Honolulu Fire Department and Crash, Fire, and Rescue. Firefighters needed to rescue a pilot with simulated injuries in addition to extinguishing flames from the crash.
Castle Medical Center health officials treated 20 volunteers for a mock chemical attack. Officials at the flight line and medical center set up decontamination showers for the exposed. Freeland said emergency medical teams needed to discover the mock chemical agent and treat accompanying injuries.
The AT/FP officer said in real disasters it’s especially important to listen to instructions from officials.
“Go where you’re told to go,” she said. “If you’re instructed to stay in place, then do that. If you do evacuate, then be sure to go in an orderly manner. It’s important to evacuate in the right way, otherwise you could be walking into danger.”
The six-hour exercise provided new information to base personnel and Castle Medical Center workers on how to coordinate efforts. Anderson said he hopes training with local agencies, such as HPD, will continue in other joint exercises.
“The Honolulu Police Department and our security elements molded together in the right way,” he said. “Our agencies have several missions in common, and we all have a basic understanding of what needs to be done.”