An aircraft mishap marked the first simulated drill to take place during Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain (CSSC), the Navy’s annual two-week anti-terrorism/force protection exercise designed to test the training and readiness of NAS Patuxent River security services and first responders.
One word, repeated three times – exercise, exercise, exercise – preceded reports of a helicopter crash at Alpha Taxiway West. Personnel in the affected area were instructed via the AtHoc emergency notification system to simulate Shelter-in-Place, which describes a safe area inside a building during an event and is the preferred action to take to avoid casualties and fatalities. Other personnel not directly involved in the exercise were advised to continue normal operations and asked to avoid the exercise area while commuting.
The scenario, which occurred on day one of Citadel Shield – that portion of CSSC focusing on installation-level training and taking place entirely within Pax River’s gates – involved fire in a downed helicopter, a leaking fuel hazard, and six crew members onboard with casualties.
Using the Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Training Device in place of the helicopter, fire and emergency services, hazmat unit, and medical corpsmen from Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River responded to the call and performed their required duties under the watchful eye of observers making notes on clipboards.
Three other drills are expected to be run in the first week and some of the scenarios may lead to gate delays or closures, barriers being set up, temporary changes in traffic or parking patterns and an increase in force protection conditions.
To be prepared in advance, personnel should be enrolled in AtHoc to receive any emergency notifications. Information will also be posted by the NAS public affairs officer on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NASPaxRiver; or on Twitter @NASPaxRiverPAO.