NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- On the morning of Feb. 4, a message went out over the airways that an active shooter incident was taking place within Naval Health Clinic New England (NHCNE) building 43 at Naval Station Newport.
The active shooter scenario was part of Exercise Solid Curtail-Citadel Shield (SC-CS) 2016, an annual training exercise designed to enhance the training and readiness of Navy security forces.
The automated telephone messages, computer generated emails, social media posts, texts and giant voice announcements all triggered a series of events within every building on board the installation.
Emergency procedures include an initial lock down of all facilities including the gates onto and off of the installation.
This level of training can have impacts on the community outside the gates, which can add to the realism of the training.
Installation officials made great efforts to inform the local community about the drill in advance, including how emergency crews would deal with the traffic back-ups. As a result, the scenario provided essential lessons to learn.
"Naval Station Newport is like another town on the island and we work closely with them on many actions," said Newport City Mayor Jeanne Marie Napolitano.
"Every time they drill, it provides us an opportunity to review our procedures and refine them as well," Napolitano said.
In past years, Newport, along with nearby Middletown and Portsmouth, participated in various exercises by sending their fire and emergency response personnel.
There are active mutual aid and response relationships between the Navy and these communities. The coordinated training strengthens those ties.
"Having the assistance of state and local agencies in training through these scenarios builds teamwork, helps the Navy better plan for how we would actually respond to events recognizing that we would need the assistance of our community partners and greatly improves the scenarios," said Capt. Dennis R.D. Boyer, Naval Station Newport commanding officer.
Once exercise participants confirmed NHCNE's building 43 as the location of the active shooter/mass casualty event, community and base restrictions in the surrounding areas eased, and traffic issues were barely noticeable.
Activity around building 43 was bustling beginning with NAVSTA Newport Police responding to the scene and establishing the Incident Command Post.
They were quickly followed by NAVSTA Fire Department and members of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service, who have an office at the installation.
In addition to members of the NAVSTA Newport Incident Management Team, five members of the R.I. Department of Health (DoH) had arranged to be part of the drill by simulating the local communities of Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Jamestown's emergency response teams.
"Hands-on training of putting patients in the system and coordinating through to the hospitals is invaluable," said Chris McGrath, Asst. Strategic National Stockpile Manager for R.I., DoH and emergency response team member.
McGrath had a portable computer with him and explained that had this been an actual event, as soon as the Incident Commander declared a mass casualty incident, either via the computer or on a radio, the R.I. DoH team would have mobilized.
R.I. DoH monitors emergency notification systems around the clock in an effort to make sure that hospitals and emergency facilities can handle emergency patient influx that would result with a mass casualty event.
"Triage, Transport and Treatment, we would have begun moving patients to Newport and then branched outward throughout the state as space was available," said Team Leader Joe Reppucci.
SC-CS 2016 is a planned annual exercise and not in response to any particular threat.
NAVSTA Newport is a major part of industry in Rhode Island with over 12,000 people working and training on the base, daily. NAVSTA Newport is the Navy's Center of Excellence for Officer and Senior Enlisted Education and Training.
For more about the installation, go to www.cnic.navy.mil/NAVSTANewport/.
For more news from Naval Station Newport, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsnewport/.