By Clark Pierce Editor
As part of its annual 10-day hurricane preparedness exercise, NAS Jacksonville activated its National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) response April 24-25 to support personnel displaced by natural or man-made disasters.
“Our NDMS drill scenario is a destructive hurricane striking the Florida Panhandle and North Carolina,” said Jim Butters, NAS Jacksonville installation training officer.
“At the request of state and local authorities, NDMS provides supplemental medical assistance during natural disasters like a hurricane.
Using Air Force transports, such as the C-130 Hercules, NDMS evacuates patients who cannot be cared for in the disaster area to designated safe havens elsewhere in the nation – in this case, NAS Jacksonville.
”The exercise response was coordinated by Dana Shropshire, emergency manager at Naval Hospital Jacksonville (NH Jax).
“In Northeast Florida, NDMS is directed by NH Jax Commanding Officer Capt.
He works with a regional network of voluntary, non-federal, acute-care hospitals capable of treating the victims of natural or man-made disasters who may be transported to NAS Jax from storm-affected areas,” said Shropshire.
The drill took place on the NAS Jax tarmac with a Navy P-3C Orion substituting for an Air Force C-130.
Volunteer victims boarded the aircraft and took their places on medical stretchers to portray injured evacuees.
A four-person security team with a military working dog arrived to set up a safety perimeter around the aircraft.
“After any disaster, victims with life-threatening injuries are removed from the aircraft, and a law enforcement team performs a security sweep of the aircraft,” explained Maj.
Jerry Syrek, training officer for the NAS Jax Police Department.
“In this drill, security personnel confiscated two simulated firearms and a stash of marijuana.
”After the clean sweep phase of the drill concluded and victims were transported to appropriate medical facilities, Butters and Shropshire moved to the NAS Jax Emergency Operation Center (EOC) where additional NDMS tabletop simulations ensued.
“In a real-world scenario, the standard load of a C-130 is about 50 patients, so this type of response could see patients arriving in the hundreds or more,” said Butters.
“Overall, today’s event was successful.
All parties involved displayed cooperation and we demonstrated our ability to respond to this type of mission,” concluded Butters.
The NDMS drill is part of HURREX/Citadel Gale 2012 that helps military and civilian personnel prepare for the Atlantic hurricane season, which spans from June 1 to Nov. 30.
NDMS is an asset-sharing partnership among the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services – all working with state and local governments, as well as the private sector.