MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Smoke could be seen barreling from a wreck of cement and debris March. 3, at the Cunningham Gate as air station officials, local emergency first responders and personnel conducted the 2015 Crisis Response Drill at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
During the exercise, emergency response teams including air station and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing personnel; Cherry Point Fire and Emergency Services Department; Task Force Ten; United States Coast Guard; Craven County Emergency Services; New Bern Fire Department and Havelock Police Department responded to a mock scenario at Cunningham Gate where a vehicle borne IED was said to have been detonated, destroying the gate and Pass and Identification building. Emergency personnel secured the perimeter of the site while searching for additional threats and assisting casualties.
The exercise was designed to test Cherry Point’s emergency preparedness program and response procedures, according to Grant D. DeHaven, the Cherry Point mission assurance department program manager.
“The primary goal of the exercise was to test the first response to a structural collapse here upon receipt of an emergency mass notification. The secondary goal was the use of the Emergency Operations Center and the efficiency of command and control of the event from the EOC,” said DeHaven.
In correspondence with the explosion at Cunningham Gate, exercise controllers from the Marine Corps Regional Exercise Team East set up a side objective, said Dehaven.
“An emergency environmental response was set up at Slocum Creek,” said DeHaven. “The idea was, a vehicle leaked fluid into Slocum Creek. Cherry Point and 2nd MAW deployed their emergency assets to clean up the spill and ensure the creek was uncontaminated.”
According to Marcus McAllister, an all hazards exercise planner with Marine Corps Regional Exercise Team East, the exercise gave the fire department and emergency response teams a chance to rehearse for an emergency scenario.
“The firefighters entered the collapsed structure using equipment they would use in a real-life scenario,” said McAllister. “They used problem solving skills to decide how to enter the structure, extricate victims and clear the site.”
Though Cherry Point personnel train annually for a variety of emergencies, the chance to rehearse on a large scale helped Cherry Point and 2nd MAW leadership evaluate and adjust its planning and procedures. Additionally, Cherry Point personnel were able to evaluate their mission essential Marine Corps tasks and current anti-terrorism measures.
According to Chief Rodney Wade, fire chief for the Cherry Point Fire and Emergency Services Department, those participating in the training event are unaware of what will take place, which keeps the reactions more natural.
“This training is very important for our fire and emergency personnel,” said Wade. “Organizations like Cherry Point’s Fire Department, New Bern Fire Department and Task Force Ten would be working together if this were a real-life crisis, so the training they receive together here is crucial.”
During the exercise, Fire and emergency personnel honed skills and specialties that they don’t apply regularly, said Wade.
After the exercise, each leader involved with the crisis response drill conducted an after action review of the scenario and the response, said Wade.
“I am very happy with how the responders performed,” said Wade. “They didn’t let the pressure get to them and the exercise accomplished the commander’s mission. Additionally the exercise raised awareness of a potential crisis that could happen here and showed that Cherry Point has the capabilities to smoothly handle it.”