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Hurricane Drill Focuses on Readiness, Preparation

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110505-14

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dion Dawson, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- As hurricane season approaches, June through November, Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB), Md., and the National Naval Medical Center participated in the Navy's Hurricane Exercise (HURREX)/Citadel Gale 2011, April 29.

Drilling as though an actual hurricane was tracking towards Bethesda, emergency officials activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from which they released multiple reports of damage and coordinated necessary assistance, said Ronald Kunz, installation emergency manager for NSAB.

During an emergency, command leaders gather in the EOC to assess the destruction, seeking to minimize casualties and further damage. As a supervisor during last week's drill, Kunz said he answered questions and offered guidance to other drill participants.

"We sent out briefing sheets [to exercise participants in advance] explaining what their job entails. They all did their homework and [were] ready to go," said Kunz.

The main goal was for everyone to learn their responsibilities and work together as a team, said Navy Master-At-Arms Chief Robert Hebron, deputy security officer for NSAB.

"Our main focus is to accommodate patients, staff and visitors and help them through any event that takes place," said Hebron. "I am very confident that the staff within the security department, as well as on the installation is very well suited to handle any type of severe weather, natural or man-made disaster that takes place on the installation. I was very pleased with how well we all interacted. We were able to actually take in the scenario, damage and all, and respond as if the situation was happening."

During an emergency, it's important to remember the safety of patients and staff members are a priority, said Robert Hill, a fire inspector for NSAB's Fire and Emergency Services.

"As a firefighter, we are called [on] for a lot of [situations] and deal with a lot of front line information, so my concern was the reaction. To be able to facilitate the problem with little error and minor additional issues is great," he said, adding, "We don't want the tenants of the facility affected in a negative manner [in an emergency]. It's very important that we do this [exercise] now so when inclement weather approaches, the response and readiness will already be established."

"I've been through this [type of training] before, and I just want everyone to remember this is a learning experience. The great thing is the command staff here communicates at a great level. Communication flowed back and forth, almost flawlessly," said Hill.

"I was extremely pleased with how well everybody worked," said Kunz. "The communication was excellent. Communication is usually the biggest problem, but the team today worked very well. When problems presented themselves, the EOC quickly addressed them, routed them throughout the teams and they were able to come up with good solutions. The teams were able to maintain excellent logs, which then made the team members aware of everything that was happening. The whole group was informed and that only makes it easier moving forward."

"This is one of many drills we're going to have moving forward," Kunz added. "This is a start. As the years go on, we are going to involve the entire base and installation. With the added success brings the anticipation for bigger and better things in the future."

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