Drills put Naples' emergency management to test
Stars and Stripes August 24, 2006
NAPLES, Italy — Routine operations came to a standstill Wednesday morning at both U.S. Navy bases here as personnel responded to two staged disasters — a car bomb that exploded at the Capodichino base, and a suicide bomber at the support site base in Gricignano.
Wednesday represented the climax of several months of smaller training scenarios, which for the first time tested how well several staffs worked and communicated together, including security, medical, fire and rescue personnel, and criminal investigators, officials said.
“Today validated everything we’ve been doing over the months to prepare for any kind of disaster, from a terrorist attack to the volcano exploding to an earthquake,” said Lt. Cmdr. Perry Suter, head of the base’s security department.
“The troops really outdid themselves,” he said of his security personnel. “Even though we’ve been downsized by half, they still maintained all the requirements.”
Drills, and the long delays to get on and off the two bases, are expected to continue Thursday.
And for the first time, the hospital on Wednesday used an automated incident command system, in which medical staff successfully tracked where each and every patient was during the drill, whether in the emergency room, operating room, or released following treatment, said Lt. Cmdr. Frank Dos Santos, the head of the hospital’s emergency room department and the emergency management manager.
“From where we were six months ago, we have really improved the management of mass casualty incidents,” Dos Santos said. Over the past six months, hospital staff too has staged smaller drills, he said, and Wednesday tested their collective training.