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Active-shooter scenario tested aboard Lejeune

by Amanda Wilcox

JDNews.com
Camp Lejeune, NC | October 4, 2012

While most high school students practice fire drills, the Lejeune High School students had the unique opportunity this week to practice their response to a shooter on campus.

During the Urgent Response Training, a scenario was acted out on Thursday where two shooters attempt to take over Lejeune High School. The elaborate exercise involved more than 200 people, including active-duty Marine Corps volunteers, the Camp Lejeune Provost Marshall’s Office, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, Department of Defense Educational Activity Schools, the Fire and Emergency Services Division and other emergency response services.

 “One of our biggest threats to the installation would be an active shooter,” said Joe Hanks, director for the exercise. “With the recent news events ... we just want to make sure that we are prepared to handle this kind of situation.”

Marines from the 2nd Maintenance Battalion volunteered to pose as the shooters and victims, with the victims using the names of real Lejeune High School students so the school could assess their attendance recording process during the exercise and respond accordingly.

Two Marines, dressed casually and carrying mock assault rifles, made their way up the school grounds from the parking lot and encountered two other Marines who were posing as students. The Marines with the plastic guns “shot” the two Marines outside — wounding them both — then made their way into the front office, still shooting, to the main hallway and ultimately to the gymnasium where they “shot” more than 30 Marines posing as students attending a physical education class.

The shooting victims laid on the floor screaming and writhing in agony, as one of the shooters attempted to hold them hostage — that is, until military police officers arrived on the scene.

PMO swept the grounds of the school, ensured the threat had been contained to the gymnasium, took out both shooters and called in emergency responders from the fire department to begin treating and triaging the dead and wounded.

The Marines posing as dead and injured students were then transported by ambulances to the Naval Hospital where their injuries were reassessed and the emergency room staff began treatment.

“The plan for us is to very quickly assess patients to determine their stability,” emergency treatment unit leader Capt. Sharon Troxel said. “We determine who needs to go to the operating room immediately for care and who can be put aside, treated and cared for at a later time.”

With a triage system set up outside the hospital front doors, hospital corpsman began moving the bodies from the ambulances to one of four stations. The green station was for those students who suffered only minor injuries requiring first-aid treatment; the yellow station, for students who need medical attention but did not have life- or limb-threatening injuries; the red station, for those who had suffered a gunshot wound to any critical area like the head, chest or abdomen and need immediate medical attention; and the morgue, for those pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Additionally, those needing specialized care not available at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune — like a cardiothoracic surgeon — were readied to be transported by helicopter to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, but for the purposes of the exercise were not actually transported.

“Drills like this are extremely important,” Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Commanding Officer Capt. David A. Lane said. “They help us exercise all systems of the process from getting a patient from the point of injury all the way to the operating room for treatment. And unless you exercise (the process) and put it under stress, you don’t know where your weaknesses are.”

While the injured were being treated at the hospital, the 462 real students at Lejeune High School remained on lock down, as did the rest of the Department of Defense Activity Schools on Camp Lejeune for the purposes of the exercise.

Lejeune High School officials were then tasked with creating a way to reunite each of the 462 LHS students with their parents and used the afternoon to prepare themselves with an organized way to return students to their families should an event like the one practiced actually occur.

Base officials, including the Public Affairs Office, prepared mock statements and rehearsed how they would respond and distribute information to the public once the attack had occurred.

Although Urgent Response is exercised annually, this was the first time a mass casualty drill was ever performed at a DoDEA school. The training conducted Thursday is expected to be used as a model for other DoD schools throughout the world.

The school was being evaluated continually throughout the scenario to find weaknesses or gaps in which those involved could improve their response. The results of the exercise — including where responders and officials could stand to improve — will be reviewed and evaluated sometime in the next 30 days.

Weaknesses found in this year’s exercise will be addressed and corrected next year during a similar Urgent Response Training, Hanks said.

 

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