April 22, 2015 --
The usual earlier morning silence at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany was abruptly interrupted by the echoing of sirens from various emergency vehicles, as well as overhead sounds from a Georgia State Patrol surveillance helicopter during the “Raging Renegade,” active-shooter exercise, here, April 21.
The installation’s mass notification system, also known as the “Big Voice,” alerted personnel, residents and visitors at the onset of simulated life-threatening incidents, which propelled emergency teams/first responders into high gear at multiple locations around the base.
While firefighters battled blazes at the Base Theater, the Marine Corps Police Department personnel responded to a call of an active shooter in another building in the warehouse area.
Steven Dancer, installation emergency manager, Base Operations and Training Division, MCLB Albany, summarized the significance of the Raging Renegade exercise for ensuring the safety of residents, personnel, tenant organizations and visitors aboard the base.
“(Base personnel are) required to do an annual exercise,” Dancer said. “When we look at what is relevant as far as a threat, daily or at least every other day around the country, there is a shooting somewhere – where it’s not just your normal robbery suspect; someone is doing something violent. To say that couldn’t happen here would be (unrealistic) or (the thoughts of) someone living in a dream world. So our purpose for having the exercise here is to be better prepared, to be resilient as an installation and as a community if it were to happen.”
Another benefit Dancer cited as key to the success in these exercises is the collaboration between multiple local agencies in the base’s efforts in responding to catastrophic occurrences here.
“It’s not just our own first responders but it is an integration of our mutual aid partners both fire and emergency medical services to come in and assist if something becomes a mass casualty situation,” Dancer pointed out. “Ultimately the purpose was to exercise our ability to deal with an active shooter as well as a mass casualty incident.”
MCLB Albany’s Fire Chief, Phillip Partin, commented on the importance of the simulated fire at the Base Theater.
“It is important that we do these exercises because if we get into a routine of doing things a certain way and something out of the ordinary happens, it can throw everybody for a loop,” Partin said. “It’s good to get together with our mutual aid partners on and off base to (participate in) different types of exercises so that if something to this scale happens, we know we can call Albany, Lee County or Worth County. And, if they have some (incident) we can help them. We can work together, which helps us to (familiarize ourselves with our partners) and we learn what each will do in certain situations. It also helps us in an exercise to identify what the weaknesses are and we can do a little tweaking and get better; then, when the real thing happens everything goes off without a hitch.”
The Naval Branch Health Clinic-Albany, located at MCLB Albany, also participated with base firefighters/EMTs in triaging and treating active-duty service members who sustained burns, smoke inhalation and other simulated injuries in the theater fire.
Senior Chief David Ochletree, senior enlisted leader, NBHC, discussed his role as the triage officer as well as that of participating sailors in the medical treatment of injured personnel as a result of the simulated fire.
“This exercise is very significant because it actually puts (the sailors) in a real-world situation,” Ochletree said. “It helps to test them; it takes something where it could be life, limbs or eyesight and it pushes their medical skills. By placing them in a stressful situation it helps them to say, ‘Hey, look we can perform outside of our normal boundaries.’”
Ochletree clarified his role as triage officer by adding a bit of history and by explaining the origin and definition of the word.
“The word ‘triage’ is French and it means ‘to pick or choose,’ but what it really means is to go ahead and save the most amount of lives possible,” Ochletree concluded.
Some other components/players during the Raging Renegade exercise included aerial support, which was provided by the Georgia State Patrol Aviation Division; base emergency teams, who assembled in the Emergency Operations Center to receive and disseminate relevant updates on the simulated incidents via various media, and a mock press conference with journalism students from Darton State College, Albany, Georgia, which was officiated by Lt. Col. Nathaniel Robinson, executive officer, MCLB Albany.