MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s agencies will be put to the test for “Lethal Breeze 2014,” an annual anti-terrorism and force protection exercise running Sept. 8 and 9, 2014.
The exercise drills the emergency response and coordination of multiple base organizations. To practice their emergency protocols, areas of the base including Naval Health Clinic Hawaii’s Kaneohe Bay branch, may face delays in service. The Mokapu gate will be closed Sept. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. due to the exercise. Traffic delays are anticipated for both days, especially while driving along Mokapu Road through the airfield crossing.
“We have to remain vigilant against all types of threats and hazards including those that are (man-made) or from a natural disaster,” said Mike Allen, lead exercise planner for Lethal Breeze 2014.
This year’s exercise tests the NHCH Kaneohe Bay branch, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and several other base agencies in handling multiple emergencies. Base officials have worked in previous years with community partners, including Castle Medical Center, to test first-responders in treating mass casualties from biological contaminants.
For 2014, the K-Bay branch clinic will drill staff on responding to an active shooter. Ken Crouch, a military treatment facility emergency manager with NHCH, said his office wants to be as prepared for this type emergency as they are for other medical emergencies and fire drills.
“We want to make sure our folks are safe when evacuating, able to spread the word efficiently and to make sure we can get help or follow-on forces when needed,” Crouch said. “The key thing is to make sure our staff drill the procedures, account for themselves, their patients and ensure good practices.”
If people are in a public space during a disaster, he suggests the public listen to nearby working staff.
“If you have questions you can ask them,” he said. “They can give the guidance you need for getting out safely.”
The exercise also drills MCB Hawaii personnel in handling post-emergency situations. The Marine and Family Programs staff will drill running a Family Assistance Center, which is set up after first-responders have taken action. When the center is open, civilians, service members and their families can seek help. Counselors, as well as representatives from the American Red Cross, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Chaplain Joseph W. Estabrook Chapel, will be available there in an emergency.
“We’ll be specifically testing our hotline and call center,” said Esta Staples, director of Marine and Family Programs. “Our participation allows staff to work one-on-one with Marines and family members, as well as civilian employees who may be experiencing increased stress due to a disaster or terror attack.”
While working at K-Bay, Staples said her office hasn’t needed to run the center but came close to setting one up during the 2011 Japanese tsunami threat. She said the annual training keeps staff familiar with best policies for what to do if disaster strikes.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii officials have run Lethal Breeze for the past 10 years, and Allen said officials plan to continue to run it annually to ensure public safety.
“We are constantly planning and training to make the base’s mission assurance program a more comprehensive program which helps validates our anti-terrorism plan, incident response, terrorism consequence management, and continuity of essential military operations,” he said.