ST. MARYS, Ga. — Recent history proves terrorist attacks can happen at even the most secure military installations.
In 2009, 13 people were killed and another 30 injured by a gunman at Fort Hood, Texas, and last year a dozen people were killed and three others injured by a lone gunman at the Washington Navy Yard.
It's best to be prepared, and this week, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay and police are doing just that. They're simulating terrorist attacks in practice exercises that will last through Friday to test the response capabilities of the submarine base, as well as local police and medical emergency personnel, to different threats.
In a mock attack by a highly trained marksman Monday at the the commissary, base security officers and police were dispatched to what they were told was an "active shooter" situation. Sailors played the roles of shooting victims.
Their response to the attack, which resulted in more victims, indicated more training is needed, said Kenneth Prichett, the training coordinator who created the scenario.
"We will be conducting more training in active shooting tactics," he said.
He said police were told they would participate in a drill but knew very little about what to expect. The man playing the role of the gunman was a highly trained security force member, he said.
"They have some idea, but they didn't know what was inside," Prichett said. "We really try to keep it as close to the vest as possible."
Once the area was declared under control, teams of emergency responders arrived to a scene with 25 mock casualties. Their job was to treat the wounded and prepare them for transport to the hospital.
Prichett said the drill gives emergency responders an opportunity to train for a large number of casualties. Paramedics went from person to person to evaluate their condition before performing triage to stabilize them.
The drill was a learning experience for everyone involved, Prichett said. It will take about two weeks to evaluate the response and look for ways to improve.